Jul 31

Government ducks impact of police cuts

The government has refused to make a full statement to the House of Commons on future funding arrangements for police forces in England and Wale. This comes at a time when we have Sara Thornton, Head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council warning that the public should not expect to see a police officer after crimes such as burglary.

I pressed the Speaker on why the government had failed to inform MPs about looming cuts, but he said he could not force ministers to be more transparent. You can view the exchange by clicking here.

In Merseyside, we have already lost 23 per cent of our police budget and over 700 police officers since 2010.

Across the country, our depleted police force is already facing increasingly complex demands, but with a further 17,000 police officers expected to be cut, this government has made it impossible to maintain the same level of service for communities.

By undermining the ability of police forces to respond to serious crimes such as burglary, the Tories are taking a reckless gamble with the safety and security of our communities.

The revelation that police officers may not be able to attend burglaries reveals a disturbing picture of the police’s capability to protect the public and respond to serious crimes.

It makes it all the more urgent that the government comes clean on its funding plans so that the public fully understands the impact of Tory cuts to come.

Jul 28

Setting a goal for access to clean water

Luciana Berger Luciana Berger MP (Liverpool, Wavertree)Water Aid Parliament-708x440I stepped back in time last week to take a walk down WaterAid’s Victorian street, experiencing the sights – and smells – of an era when open sewage ran through our roads and rivers, to mark 150 years of Britain’s modern sewers.

I met characters from Victorian times to discover what life was like during the Great Stink of 1858 to highlight WaterAid’s call for the UK government to lead the way in ending the global water and sanitation crisis.

Over 115,000 people across the country signed the charity’s ‘Make It Happen’ petition to press the importance of everyone everywhere having clean water to drink and somewhere safe to go to the toilet.

Liverpool pioneered public sanitation in the UK with its 1846 Act that enabled Chief Medical Officer William Henry Duncan to start tackling the huge problem of accessing clean, safe water in the city.

It was an eye-opener to see through WaterAid’s recreation of the kind of challenges Dr Duncan faced then, and how much we need his pioneering spirit today to tackle sanitation in developing countries, where 650 million people still lack easy access to clean water.

Jul 27

Film premiere offers Casa new hope

CASA posterThe Casa on Hope Street is in need of support after years of offering a lifeline for countless people across the city, including those from Wavertree.

The advice and resource centre has   provided around £15 million of free advice since opening on Christmas Eve, 2000, while its bar has offered a welcoming venue for many a convivial meeting.

Now it is in the middle of a major fundraising drive, with a successful comedy night at the Philharmonic Hall in the spring behind it and a crowd-sourced film to be premiered on September 4.

It wants to make sure that it can carry on providing a valued meeting place and offer advice and support to many more people in the future.

The film, Viva La Casa, is part documentary, part footage from the spring concert and tells the story of the Casa’s rise from the long Liverpool Dockers dispute.

The film is being produced by local film company Tabacula, based just across the road from the Casa, and features comedians John Bishop, Mark Steel and music from The Farm, amongst others.

The premiere promises to be a great night in aid of a fine cause. You can support it by buying a ticket or even offer a bit more and get your name on the film credits. Find out more by clicking here.

Jul 24

Great chance to make an active difference

Merseyside sportsMerseyside Sports Partnership is offering a great chance to make an active difference. It is currently recruiting for voluntary board members, including a new Chair.

Board members will help people become active across our region and the partnership is keen to hear from applicants from across the full spectrum of the business community, local government and the voluntary sector.

Merseyside Sports Partnership brings together all the local agencies who want to increase participation in sport and physical activity and help them work more effectively.

To join the Board, you will need to demonstrate a passion for sport and physical activity – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be from a pure sports background.

You may be from the world of business or performance improvement, have marketing and communications experience, been a health policy maker, or been involved in innovation or strategy.

To find out more about the opportunities, click here. The closing date is August 7.


Jul 24

Supporting constituents in a humanitarian crisis

Thousands of people caught up in the conflict in Yemen have lost their lives and homes, while ports and airports have been destroyed, leaving people trapped. Hundreds of people in Liverpool have raised concerns about the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen by signing a petition.

Many British citizens or relatives of British citizens are currently stranded in the country where the British Embassy has been closed since February and the United Nations has declared a humanitarian emergency.

I was approached by concerned constituents and raised the issue with government by presenting their 600-strong petition to Parliament. You can see my speech in the video above or by clicking here. The petition calls on the government to ease the suffering of British citizens in Yemen and their families by making it easier for them to leave the country.

I told Parliament that the government could offer temporary sponsored visas for relatives and dependants of British citizens residing in the UK who are waiting for visas or whose passport applications are being processed. It could also co-ordinate evacuations for vulnerable British citizens who are in urgent need of evacuation from Yemen.

The United Nations now recognises the situation in Yemen as being one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises, but the UK government is failing to support British citizens who are stuck in the country

The government needs to meet the urgency of the crisis by simplifying the application process for visa and entry requirements, and working with international agencies to evacuate those who want to leave the war-torn country.

Jul 23

Nominate for the annual Tiffin Cup

Tiffin CupThe Tiffin Cup is an annual competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in England and Wales, with proceeds from the competition going to the charity, World Vision, whose mission is to transform the lives of the poorest in the developing world.

Nominees are selected by their local MPs so I need your help to suggest your favourite South Asian restaurant to eat out in in the constituency. I will select which restaurant to nominate on the basis of the recommendations I receive – please click here to email me your recommendation.

Every MP gets to nominate one restaurant in their constituency, with shortlisted restaurants getting to cook a dish in the Houses of Parliament to decide the winner.

I know that there are lots of excellent South Asian restaurants here in Wavertree, so I’m looking forward to finding out which one you think is the best. Please make sure your nominations reach me before the deadline on Friday July 31.

Jul 21

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Last night I, along with the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party, in its entirety, voted against the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

I have been clear from the start that we in the Labour Party could not just abstain on an unfair and regressive Bill that will make life worse for so many people. There are many cuts included in the Bill that Cameron and Osborne refused to disclose before the general election, meaning they have no mandate to introduce them now.

That is why I voted against the Bill last night by voting for Labour’s amendment that said the Bill should be rejected. Our amendment explicitly stated that we ‘decline to give a second reading to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.’ So however some want to portray it, the facts are the facts, the Labour Party voted against the Bill.

After our amendment to reject the Bill had been defeated by the Tories I abided by the decision of the acting leader of the Labour Party, to abstain. I did not want to see a split in our party which would have weakened our ability to take the fight to the Tories.

It is important to remember that the passage of this Bill has only just begun. Our first amendment may have been defeated but Labour will now fight this Bill line by line, word by word at the next stage. We have already tabled a list of changes that need to happen to the Bill. They include: an amendment to prevent the Government abolishing the targets for reducing child poverty; an amendment which will mean that the household benefit cap would not apply to persons who are responsible for a child under 2 years old, are carers, or are in temporary accommodation because of domestic violence; an amendment which will require the level of the household benefit cap to be reviewed every year, rather than only once in a Parliament; an amendment to prevent the Bill restricting Universal Credit for three or subsequent children even when the third child is born before 5 April 2017; and an amendment which subjects the four-year benefit freeze to an annual review subject to changes in inflation. To name just a few.

Andy Burnham has made it clear that if the Government does not make the major changes we want, then as Labour Leader he would oppose the Bill when MPs consider it again in autumn. This is why Andy has my full support to be the next leader of our Party.

I want to reassure all my constituents. This is the beginning of a major battle with the Tories. I am determined that we will fight this unfair, divisive and regressive Bill every step of the way.


Jul 21

You can nominate today for a British Red Cross Humanitarian Award

Do you know someone under the age of 25 who has done something amazing in the last year in first aid, fundraising community action or volunteering? If so, you may want to nominate them for a British Red Cross Humanitarian Citizen Award.

The awards celebrate the wonderful contribution young people make to our world and highlight the real difference an individual or group can make to the quality of our lives.

All nominees will receive a certificate marking their nomination and have their achievements communicated through the Red Cross networks.

There is an award in each of the first aid, fundraising community action and volunteering categories, in addition to an overall winner. Both individuals and groups of young people can be nominated.

The awards ceremony takes place in November in the House of Commons, to which all short-listed nominees are invited to attend.

Make sure you nominate before August 2 by clicking here.

Jul 20

Kensington Community Learning Centre reaps the rewards of hard work

KensingtonCongratulations to the much-valued Kensington Community Learning Centre that has just been awarded a Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities grant. The grant of £447,423 will help the centre to continue providing quality training, volunteering opportunities and support for community cohesion in the local community.

The staff and volunteers have worked hard since opening in 2001 to create a community hub where around 300 local people go each week to learn, be creative, work towards accredited qualifications and update their skills, while building confidence and self-esteem.

The new funding will allow the centre to run Community Matters II, a project to support more people into work, through access to training, qualifications and advice/guidance from partner organisations. It will also guide people toward help around housing, health, legal, crime and welfare issues.

The centre is open Monday-Friday each week with a late night opening on Thursdays. Each week there are several employability workshops that support people in using the Universal Job Match website, plus free individual careers advice. There is a huge demand for English for Speakers of Other Languages courses (ESOL) with 23 sessions per week currently being offered.

IT courses are also available covering classes for total beginners with the option to progress onto accredited courses. There is also a weekly open session where staff and volunteers try to help individuals address any IT issues of their choice.

Throw in weekly craft classes, a Health and Nutrition course and Work Skills courses delivered by partner organisations and the range of activities available at the centre is quite varied. You can find out more at: www.whak.info or telephone Jurga on 0151 260 1006:

The centre is also about to launch a new service promoting local businesses.  A breakfast meeting has been arranged on Thursday July 30 to allow local businesses and tradespersons to network and find out how the centre can help them promote their business. Places at the event are limited and can be booked at: www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/17394369026/

I wish Alan and everyone at KCLC every success as it goes from strength to strength.

Jul 19

Time to back the Raise the Wage campaign

YouTube Preview ImageI’m backing Andy Burnham’s Raise the Wage campaign in the wake of a Tory budget that will condemn hospital workers, police and other public sector workers to a decade of pay cuts and pay freezes.

I know from my school-gate surgeries, talking to hospital patients and doctors and working with the police that the people who work in our public services are at full stretch.

Morale is already fragile. This Tory Budget that offers the public sector workers we all rely on no recognition for their service is unacceptable.

It is a Budget that will also divide the ages, with a new National Minimum Wage that excludes under 25s.

Chancellor George Osborne could find the money for an Inheritance Tax cut for people in million pound houses but nothing for teachers, the police, nurses or the young.

And cutting working tax credits means that millions working across the private and public sectors to pay their bills will be left worse off.

You can back the Raise the Wage campaign too by clicking here to sign the petition.

We need a true living wage for all ages

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