News & Press

Labour MPs secure meeting over hospital concerns

Labour MPs Paula Sherriff, Dewsbury, and Jo Cox, Batley & Spen, have secured a public meeting with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust to address local concerns about changes at Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Stepping up their campaign to protect the hospital from the effects of a planned downgrade of services, the MPs are working together to raise key concerns about changes to A&E and maternity departments.

After meeting with the interim Chief Executive of the Trust last week the MPs have also written to the Health Secretary to raise further concerns about ongoing issues, particularly in relation to acute care.

Following a number of alarming complaints from constituents, Ms Sherriff has secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Monday evening to raise concerns about staffing levels at the hospital.

Mrs Cox said: “We continue to have serious concerns about the way the trust is running our hospital. We are determined to use every avenue available to us here and in Parliament to continue the fight for DDH and make sure those concerns, and the concerns of local people, are addressed.”

Ms Sherriff said: “Our concerns stem from the information that we, as MPs, receive from patients with complaints, anecdotal information, internal whistle blowers and formal accounts. These suggest to us that there are some serious problems both within and affecting the Trust. It is imperative we get to the bottom of them.”

A review is under way looking at the timeline of the reconfiguration. This will be complete before the end of April and will look at whether or not the reconfiguration would help the current issues, or whether it would make them worse.

The MPs are in discussions with the Trust about when and where the public meeting will be held.

Mrs Cox added: “Although the changes being made at Dewsbury, and to the Trust as a whole, are very well advanced at this stage we both remain very concerned about the lack of information the public have about them.”

Ms Sherriff added: “Our constituents remain extremely worried about the proposed loss of services at our hospital. We will continue to hold the Trust to account and fight for the best deal for local people.”

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Happy International Women's Day!

Happy International Women’s Day! Today is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and the continuing fight for equality for women everywhere.  

Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to get behind some great campaigns for gender equality. The highlight of these has been my amendment to the Finance Bill which would have forced an EU negotiation on the VAT rate charged on sanitary items, which has been dubbed the ‘Tampon Tax’.

It’s good to shine a light on the deep rooted injustice of gender pricing. I’m glad that the Chancellor has been forced to pledge to eventually abolish the tampon tax altogether, but in the meantime the £15m raised by the tax is to go to women’s services through breast cancer and domestic abuse charities – services that ought not have been cut to begin with and should be funded by society as a whole, not paid for by women just because they have periods!

Tory austerity has made life harder for women all across the country – it’s shocking that in 2016, women in the UK are more likely to work for less pay than men, in low paid jobs and be disproportionately affected by cuts to public services. Between 2010 and 2020, 81% of the savings made to the Treasury through tax and benefit changes will be paid for by women. The Government’s mismanagement of changes to the state pension age for women born in the 1950s is an injustice causing added financial worries for many already struggling to cope from week to week.

All of these things can be changed if women use their right to vote. Sadly, 34% of women did not vote in last year’s election. This year women should make sure their voices are heard in May’s local elections. Together we can make the Tories sit up and listen! Why not celebrate International Women’s Day by registering to vote? It only takes a few minutes at: gov.uk/register-to-vote

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MP demands better broadband for constituents

Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury, has this week challenged the Government to come clean on their failed pledge to ensure every home and business in the UK could access basic broadband by the end of 2015.

The Government have now acknowledged that the rollout of superfast broadband is not likely to be delivered until the end of 2017.

Ms Sherriff explained: ‘A stopgap measure, the satellite voucher scheme was launched in December which is supposed to offer immediate assistance to those who are still waiting for decent access to broadband. Unfortunately many local people have contact me to say they are not able to access this, due to limited eligibility criteria.’

In response to her question to Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey in Parliament yesterday, Ms Sherriff was told that the satellite voucher scheme would provide broadband access to everyone who does not currently have broadband or has broadband under 2mbps.

‘Sadly, this is not the full picture for local residents. The Government’s eligibility criteria means that, in areas where superfast broadband is due to be rolled out within the next 12 months, local people will not be entitled to the satellite voucher scheme.

For those who have contacted me, this is not a satisfactory situation – they have been waiting years to have access to a decent broadband service and they feel the satellite voucher scheme offers false hope of providing immediate access in the short term.

My constituents are understandably disappointed that their homes will continue to be isolated, businesses diminished and children’s educations stunted by poor connectivity.’

Ms Sherriff has now written to Mr Vaizey to highlight her constituents’ concerns about the efficacy of the satellite voucher scheme and to ask that the Government expand the scheme so that it offers the short term assistance promised.

‘The Government have broken their promise to ensure every home and business in the UK could access basic broadband by the end of 2015. Now they offer us a short term measure that will be out of reach for many residents awaiting decent broadband access.  It’s just not good enough to ask my constituents to wait a further 12 months. People have been waiting long enough to access to a reasonable broadband service which in 2016 is a necessity, not a luxury.’

Watch the full question Ms Sherriff asked in Parliament here:

http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/345df3af-019f-40f6-93af-0a1d90d9c489?in=09:51:26

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Paula visits Greenhead College

Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury, took part in a Q&A debate with local students at Greenhead College on Friday.

Budding politicians studying Government & Politics A-level put questions to the Member of Parliament for Dewsbury, leading to a vibrant debate covering a range of topical issues.

Ms Sherriff said: “I always enjoy meeting with students from the local area to hear about the issues that matter to them, so I was really pleased to be able to join Greenhead College students. It is so important to encourage young people to get involved with politics and their community so it was great to have so many of them putting their questions to me.”

During the visit, Ms Sherriff also met with Principal Anton McGrath, who explained the difficulties being faced by the college due to delays affecting preparation for the new style A-levels. Following the Government’s controversial A-level reforms announced in 2014, teachers are still awaiting accreditation of specifications for some of the reformed GCSEs and A-levels for students commencing study in September this year.

Commenting on this Ms Sherriff said: “I will be raising this matter in Parliament – parents, students and teachers need to be given piece of mind that the content and assessment of qualifications are determined well in advance of courses starting this year. It is essential that colleges are able to make the necessary plans for their students. ”

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See for yourself, minister urged

Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff has invited the Health Minister Ben Gummer to visit the area to meet with local Trust leaders and to again ask him to ensure that there is no negative impact on local people.

Hospital downgrades and closures are happening up and down the country. Two out of three NHS Trusts are in deficit and the situation is only set to get worse.

During a meeting with Mr Gummer alongside Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen late last month, Miss Sherriff raised local concerns about the implications of the proposed changes across Kirklees.

Later speaking in Parliament, Miss Sherriff, a former health worker and member of the Health Select Committee said:

‘The loss of full emergency services in Dewsbury was a bitter blow and now we hear that Calderdale & Greater Huddersfield CCGs are planning their own hospital downgrade.

These plans will see the whole of Kirklees without any Accident & Emergency provision.  That’s over 430,000 people who will have to travel outside the borough to access vital emergency healthcare for themselves and their loved ones.  How can this be acceptable?’

Many local people are concerned about the combined impact of the changes at Dewsbury & District Hospital and the recent announcement of a further planned closure of A&E services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. Miss Sherriff attended the debate in Parliament with fellow Kirklees MPs to raise local concerns on the issue.

In just over a month since the Huddersfield proposals were announced there has been a massive public outcry. The Facebook campaign has over 46,000 members alongside a UK Government petition ‘Prevent the Closure of Huddersfield A&E Department’ which at the time of writing has over 59,000 signatures. 

Miss Sherriff said:

‘I’m working hard to keep up the pressure on the Government to resolve the serious shortfall in A&E care that is threatening local residents due to their failed health policy. I want to make sure the minister follows up on the concerns Jo and I raised with him last month. I urge the Government to take account of the concerns local people have about the reconfiguration and downgrade of our health services.

I campaigned against the closure of the Accident & Emergency Department in Dewsbury prior to my election. I simply cannot sit back and watch this situation any longer. Action must be taken and it is my job, as your MP, to stand up and fight for my constituents.’

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It's my duty to expose Tories' false promises

Kirklees Council has had £110 million cut from its funding over the last five years and is set to be starved of millions more over this parliament. It appeared the government were starting to understand the impact this was having on people and local authorities when they announced a £300 million ‘transitional grant fund’. Unfortunately Kirklees will see none of this. With the fund coming from a currently unknown source, it has emerged that wherever this money is found, the vast majority – some 85% – is to be given to affluent Tory controlled councils who have had far lighter cuts over the last five years.

It is clear that the government have little time for Dewsbury or Kirklees. However, I have made it my duty to hold them to account on every false promise and misleading statement made about our area.

Before Christmas, following a question by my colleague Jo Cox MP for Batley & Spen on the social care crisis we are faced with, The Chancellor Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Letwin accused Kirklees Council of having ‘£200 million in useable and unused reserves’. Knowing this was an outrageously incorrect statement I had the official figures confirmed. It is in fact less than a fifth of the stated amount.  I raised a point of order on the issue to ensure that it wouldn’t go un-noticed.

You may remember that prior to the general election, Chancellor George Osborne told  a local newspaper that Dewsbury would be an Enterprise Zone within 100 days of the election. An Enterprise Zone would have meant that any new business or existing business moving into a town premises would be spared rates for 5 years as a means of encouraging investment.

As soon as I was elected I started to push the issue, last year asking twice in the House of Commons as well as submitting a written question and being fobbed off each time. Recently I raised it again, pointing out that it had been nine months and there had been no mention of an Enterprise Zone in Dewsbury. As usual I was fobbed off by the Minister. This time completely avoiding the answer, he insinuated that Dewsbury should look to prosperous tourist towns for tips on how to regenerate.

It is obvious that the government has no intention of granting Dewsbury an Enterprise Zone. But I’m pleased to have exposed the Chancellor for his broken promise in what was a despicable piece of electioneering. I will continue to lobby for much needed investment in our town and to hold the government to account on behalf of local people.

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Paula calls for debate on tips and gratuities

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff has called for a debate on the Department of Business Innovation and Skills consultation on tips and gratuities.

The call comes following revelations by the Unite Union (who led the successful campaign into stopping Pizza Express pocketing a percentage of staff tips last year), that a five star London Hotel owned by the Melia International chain, was using the staff service charge to top up senior managers salaries.

The Business Secretary Sajid Javid undertook a review into the practice of which the consultation period ended at the start of November last year. However to date there has been no government response into the review. 

Sherriff asked the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling MP last Thursday:

“May we have Government time for a debate on the consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on tips and gratuities? The consultation closed at the start of last November, but the Minister for Skills confirmed in a written answer this morning that no Government response is imminent. Just this week, Unite the union has exposed another scandalous practice in which the Melia Hotel International chain appears to take a 15% cut from tips and uses it to top up senior managers’ pay, which it describes as standard industry practice. Will the Leader of the House join me in saying that this is totally unacceptable, and urge his colleagues to move from consultation to action?”

Grayling responded:

“I have always taken the view that if someone is given a tip, either they should keep it or it should be pooled with their fellow members of staff. I know that the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills takes this issue seriously and I will make sure that the specific concerns raised by the hon. Lady are passed to him.”

Commenting afterwards, Sherriff said:

“It’s not acceptable that three months after the consultation has finished, the government are still saying that no response is imminent.

“Waiting tables is among the worst paid jobs in the UK with unsociable hours.  Many waiters rely on their tips to boost their low earnings. They should not be getting robbed by their own employer.

“Tips are left by customers intended for the staff who served them, it is therefore immoral for companies to be siphoning this money off to boost the already high earnings of the company management. It also shows they have complete disregard for their customers.

“Deduction of tips from hard working and poorly paid staff is not something the government should consult on and then kick into the long grass. It is a situation which needs to be acted upon now.”

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Tories hand millions to wealthiest councils – but there’s only cuts for Kirklees

 

Tories hand millions to wealthiest councils – but there’s only cuts for Kirklees

 

 

 

Labour MP Paula Sherriff has accused the Government of a stitch-up after the Chancellor handed hundreds of millions of pounds to the wealthiest Tory councils to ease the pain of spending cuts – but offered nothing to Kirklees.

 

 

 

Kirklees has suffered some of the highest spending cuts since 2010, but has received nothing at all in yesterday’s announcement.  Meanwhile, leafy Surrey, one of England’s wealthiest shires, has been given a hand-out of £24m despite suffering far fewer cuts in recent years.

 

 

 

Tory MPs became alarmed when they realised their areas might soon see cuts similar to those imposed on the rest of the country.  They threatened to vote down the Government’s planned cuts until Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced a £300 million ‘transitional grant’.  The Government have refused to say where the extra money comes from.

 

 

 

Labour analysis shows that £255 million of the grant – 85% – goes to Tory councils. Areas with Labour run councils receive just £17 million, despite suffering the harshest cuts since 2010 and having higher levels of deprivation.  

 

 

 

Paula said:

 

 

 

“Kirklees Council has already suffered unprecedented cuts of over £105million since 2010 with millions more to be slashed in the coming years. My constituency of Dewsbury has some of the most deprived areas in the country yet the government continues to turn a blind eye to the Northern Poorhouse they are creating. 

 

 

 

“We now know that the government are paying off their Tory run councils in wealthy areas with tax payers’ money. How can this be fair? The Chancellor once said we are all this together yet he cuts taxes for millionaires, lets Google off the hook with millions in unpaid tax and continues to cut northern, Labour run councils to the bone at the same time as giving handouts to leafy affluent Tory run councils.”

 

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PAULA DEMANDS APOLOGY OVER CHANCELLOR’S BROKEN ENTERPRISE ZONE PROMISE

 

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff demanded an apology from the Communities & Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones for the Chancellors broken Enterprise Zone promise.

 

Prior to the General Election last May, the Chancellor George Osborne said to the Dewsbury Reporter that within 100 days of the election Dewsbury would be added to a list of Enterprise Zones.  If this had been followed through it would have meant that new businesses moving into the town or those that wish to change premises would be exempt from business rates for five years.  A measure which has proved to revitalise town and city centres.

 

During a ‘Support for High Streets’ debate on Monday Sherriff asked:

 

“A week before the general election, the Chancellor told the Dewsbury Reporter that within the first 100 days of a Tory Government, the town would be added to a list of enterprise zones in which new businesses would be spared business rates for the next five years. Will the Minister confirm that nine months into a Tory Government, there is no enterprise zone in my constituency, and local businesses on our high street are still paying full rates? Will he offer an apology to local people who were promised one thing when the Chancellor wanted their votes, and got quite another once he was in office?”

 

Completely avoiding the question, Communities & Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones said that Dewsbury could take tips from a number of towns around Yorkshire that had won awards in the Great British High Street Competition.  An insinuation that Dewsbury should look to somewhere like the tourist town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire for ideas of how to regenerate itself.

 

This isn’t the first time Sherriff has raised the issue, having asked twice orally and once in written questions last year.

 

Sherriff said:

 

“This was the most despicable piece of electioneering imaginable. The Tories have reneged on many promises made before the election such as on elderly care costs, tax credits and transport infrastructure. However this was a deliberate and targeted false promise for the people of Dewsbury in a desperate attempt to save my predecessor from losing his seat.

 

“I have been pushing for answers on this for months and have been fobbed off by Government Ministers who have complete disregard for Dewsbury. This latest answer from Marcus Jones is simply unbelievable. Does he really think Dewsbury could look to the affluent North Yorkshire town of Helmsley for tips? There is no comparison between the two towns and to suggest that there is shows just how out of touch the Minister really is.

 

“I have many constituents contact me with concerns about Dewsbury Town Centre. The Government has let them down but I will keep pushing for both an apology and investment in our town.”  

 

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MP CONTINUES TO LOBBY GOVERNMENT FOR MIRFIELD TRAIN STATION IMPROVEMENTS

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, who has joined forces with local action group ‘Friends of Mirfield Station’, has stepped up the pressure on the government to invest in much needed improvements to the dated Victorian railway station.

Many locals complain of inadequate parking facilities, poor waiting areas, and a platform that is inaccessible to many disabled, elderly and infirm passengers.

In a letter to Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP in December Sherriff raised all areas of concern particularly emphasising the accessibility issue.

In a response from the Minister referring to the £160 million ‘Access for All’ scheme Jones said:

“Although Mirfield Station was nominated, it was unsuccessful because out of the 278 stations, Mirfield ranked 177 by weighted footfall. All funding has now been allocated until at least 2019.”

Unhappy with the response Sherriff raised the issues with Transport Minister Claire Perry in the House of Commons on Thursday asking:

“The main platform at Mirfield railway station in my constituency is only accessible via very steep steps, which can make it very difficult, and sometimes impossible, for the disabled and the elderly or infirm to access the station. Will the Minister agree to meet me or perhaps visit Mirfield to see how we can facilitate much needed improvements to the station?”

The Minister responded saying:

 “I am always happy to discuss these issues with the hon. Lady. She will know that more than 400 stations have significantly benefited from the investment of the Access for All scheme. Clearly there is more to do and I am very happy to have a conversation with her about that.”

Commenting on issue Sherriff said:

“I am pleased the Minister has agreed to discuss the issue further with me following a negative response in writing from her colleague.  I welcome the fact that 400 stations have benefited from the Access for All scheme but I would like to see this extended to more stations including Mirfield.

“The government talks of a Northern Powerhouse but needs to act to ensure we have the infrastructure in place rather than leaving places like Mirfield with outdated and inaccessible stations.

“I will continue to work closely with Friends of Mirfield Station to press the government into action on this issue.” 

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