Friday 1 December 2023

Labour will bring ‘face to face banking back to communities’

John Healey has said that Labour will stop the decline of the great British high street and bring much needed banking services back to communities.

Labour has announced it will accelerate the roll out of ‘banking hubs’ which help people deposit and take out cash as well as get support and help with wider banking services. Labour will work with banks and, where necessary, bring in new powers for the Financial Conduct Authority to stop people being left in ‘banking deserts’ guaranteeing communities access to face-to-face banking services.

John secured a banking hub for Wath from LINK earlier this year after the town was left without any bank branches.

John Healey said: “Many people feel that banks are pushing them to use online banking and removing face to face banking services.

“But there are lots of people that only bank in branch and don’t feel comfortable with online banking. Local businesses also need somewhere to go to access funding and deposit cash that isn’t miles away.

“Labour’s plan will bring banking services back to communities who have seen them disappear over recent years, meaning more people across the country will be able to access the services they need closer to home.”

While the Conservatives have delivered just a handful banking hubs, Labour’s plan could see at least 350 banking hubs established on local high streets and, as hubs are shared by the major banks, customers from almost every bank can use the hub.

The plans come as Labour reveals the shocking lack of banking services available on British high streets. Almost half of bank branches in the UK have shut since the Conservatives won their majority in 2015, with Yorkshire losing nearly two thirds of bank branches.

Alongside the plans to bring back banking to communities Labour will also back the great British high street with plans to:

  • Give councils the power to tackle shuttered up shops
  • Tackle antisocial behaviour and shoplifting through dedicated police patrols
  • Replace business rates with a fairer system
  • End late payments to support small businesses.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Shopworkers facing “unacceptable levels of violence and abuse”

John Healey, says shopworkers across the borough are having to deal with unacceptable levels of violence and abuse.

It’s after the shopworkers union Usdaw revealed two-thirds of its members working in retail are suffering abuse from customers.

Shocking statistics from the union’s annual survey revealed:

  • 65% have experienced verbal abuse.
  • 42% were threatened by a customer.
  • 5% were assaulted.
  • 60% of incidents were triggered by shoplifting.

John Healey said: “The latest figures from USDAW are truly shocking with shopworkers across our area facing unacceptable levels of violence and abuse.

“Shopworkers have reported that they’ve been spat at, threatened with knives and faced verbal abuse.

“The busy Christmas period is approaching and it’s important that we respect our shopworkers who provide an important service. Abuse should not be part of the job.

“Labour would create a new specific offence of assault against retail workers. We will reverse the Conservative Government’s decision to downgrade the response to shoplifting under £200, to make it easier to take action against repeat offenders and return to proper neighbourhood policing.”

This week is annual Respect for Shopworkers Week which aims to highlight the issues faced by public facing workers and make it clear that abuse is not part of the job.

The annual Respect for Shopworkers Week runs from 13-19 November, with Usdaw members also raising awareness of the union’s year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign.

You can find out more here: USDAW – Respect for Shopworkers Week

Monday 4 September 2023

John calls for a “reset” in school uniform costs

John Healey says there needs to be a “reset” in the relationship between parents and schools when it comes to uniform costs.

It’s as the Labour Party announced plans to reduce the cost of buying school uniforms, potentially saving families hundreds of pounds as children return to school for the new term.

Labour will limit the number of branded items that parents are forced to purchase in future by strengthening existing guidance on the cost of school uniforms.

John Healey said: “It’s wrong that parents are having to shell out hundreds of pounds to kit out their kids for the new school term as the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit household budgets.

“The cost of school uniform has risen by 30% in the last three years, with parents now spending an average of £422 a year on secondary school uniforms and £287 on primary uniforms with costs driven up by branded items.

“That’s why Labour will limit the number of branded items families must buy saving them money on spiralling uniform costs.”

The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021, introduced by Labour MP Mike Amesbury, forced schools to review their uniform policies to see how they can be made more cost-effective by keeping branded items “to a minimum”.

Schools were expected to review policies to ensure they were compliant with the guidance by September last year. Nearly half of parents surveyed by the Children’s Society reported, however, that policies had not been updated.

The Children’s Society polled 2,000 parents across the UK in May about their annual uniform costs, claiming that parents of secondary school children faced the highest expenses for various clothing items, including:

  • Coats and bags averaging £75 per child annually
  • Sports shoes and boots for PE amounting to an average £63 per child per year
  • School shoes coming in at £62
  • Blazers costing £46
  • Skirts and dresses costing £46
  • Jumpers and ties amounting to £40

Wednesday 19 July 2023

New improved bus service for Ravenfield

A new improved bus service is set to start in Ravenfield next week thanks to a campaign by John Healey.

The no 3 bus route through Ravenfield to Bramley and Wickersley was set to be cut when Powell’s went bust last year but John joined forces with the Mayor of South Yorkshire to keep the service going.

And it’s now been confirmed that Cawthornes Travel will be providing a new timetable from 24th July with additional journeys introduced in the late afternoon on Mondays to Saturdays.

John Healey said: “It’s fantastic news for people living in Ravenfield that the number 3 bus timetable is being expanded.

“The service is used by people in the village to access important services at the Tanyard, in Wickersley and in the centre of Rotherham as well as helping students get to Wickersley School.

“I’ve been campaigning with residents to protect local bus routes but it’s a constant battle, as nationwide over 1000 services were cut last year alone.”

John received confirmation from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority that a no 3 service would be maintained with a timetable increasing from 5 to 9 services a day, Monday to Saturday.

This has helped ensure buses continue to connect the Rotherham Interchange, Wickersley, Flanderwell and Ravenfield.

Monday 3 July 2023

John's two-year campaign for a new footpath topped off in Cortonwood

John Healey has welcomed much needed improvements to a well-used footpath into Cortonwood retail park. It tops off the MP’s two-year campaign to get the path upgraded.

He worked to get the path properly surfaced with the Rights of Way team at Rotherham Council and St Pauls developments plc, the landowners at the retail park.

The path runs from Knollbeck Lane in Brampton into the retail park along the old pit entrance to the former Cortonwood Colliery site. This provides important access for workers and visitors getting to and from the retail park every day.

John Healey started this campaign after meeting workers in the Royal Mail contact centre on the Cortonwood site in October 2021. They raised their concerns about the safety and state of the footpath which many of them use this to get to work. He then took this up directly with the Rights of Way team at Rotherham Council and the landowner St Pauls, aiming to bring them together to agree  action to improve this footpath.

After organising meetings and site visits with council officers and the Managing Director of St Pauls, the landowners agreed to organise and cover the cost of a new surface along the section of the footpath that most needed this improvement. This new path was laid over just three days, made from crushed limestone to provide a stronger and more durable surface. And vegetation was cut back to open up the footpath further.

Rotherham Council supported this work and offered their technical advice to St Pauls to help ensure these works could be carried out smoothly without delay. They joined them to inspect the new surface last week.

John Healey welcomed these works and said: “I’m really pleased to see a proper surface on this footpath into Cortonwood retail park. It was rough, muddy and dangerous underfoot before, so it’s great to bring the landowners and Rotherham Council together to get this work done.

“This footpath is so well used by local residents who want to shop at the retail park and by staff who need to get into work. Every time we’ve done a site visit,  people stop to tell us how helpful an upgrade would be.”

David Newton, Managing Director of St Pauls developments plc, has also commented on these works and said:

“We’re really grateful to John Healey for bringing us together with Rotherham Council after raising local concerns over the condition of the footpath with us.

“We’ve very much enjoyed working together on this matter and I’m pleased to have been able to organise these improvements to get this better surface laid on the footpath. I hope this is helpful for all the residents who travel along this path when visiting and working at Cortonwood retail park.”

Tuesday 9 May 2023

John Healey launches national campaign to cut VAT on defibrillators

John Healey has launched a national campaign to put a stop to VAT being charged on the sale of defibrillators.

John met with Wath based defibrillator distributor Martek Lifecare and the British Healthcare Trades Association about the issue.

At the moment local groups, sports clubs and charities face a 20% VAT charge when they buy the life saving machines.

John Healey said: “It’s great that defibrillators are becoming more readily available to help people in an emergency, but local organisations and charities are facing an extra cost when they look to purchase a unit for their community.

“The majority of defibrillators bought by these groups face a 20% VAT charge on top of the units they buy – that’s around an extra £200 each time.

“This is a tax on saving lives. Defibrillators bought for use by community groups, charities and sports clubs should be VAT exempt to make them more affordable and help to save more lives across the country.”

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, which is an essential part in trying to save the life of someone who is in cardiac arrest.

Early defibrillation with a patient in cardiac arrest greatly improves survival rates. Figures from the British Heart Foundation show there are currently over 30,000 cases of out of hospital suspected cardiac arrests every year with fewer than 1 in 10 people surviving. Immediate CPR can double or quadruple survival rates and defibrillation within 3-5 minutes of collapse can increase survival by up to 70%.

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