Access to your own money

I have added my name to this cross-party letter urging the CEO of Barclays to reverse their decision to remove cash withdrawal services from Post Offices. Free access to cash is something that has become a real issue in the constituency, with the closure of so many high street banks and ATMs many people are reliant on cash services inside a Post Office.

In Royton, for example, there is no free access to cash apart from the Post Office and inside the Co-op. Outside of trading hours constituents are unable to access cash without charge, that is simply unacceptable. My constituents should not have to travel into Oldham Town Centre just to access their own cash, and it sadly seems that is the way we are heading.

The Access to Cash review found that nearly 8million adults would struggle in a cashless society, we should be doing all we can to ensure that our constituents have continued free access to cash and fight tooth and nail to prevent further barriers going up. I do hope that Barclays reverse this decision and Post Office branches continue to offer this vital service to our communities.

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Brexit votes, again.

Today is another key date as parliament meets for a vote on the agreement reached by Johnson and the EU.

I won’t be able to support this deal, it creates a hard border in the Irish Sea, hence the objection from the DUP, and as a United Kingdom Parliament we must consider the impact of this deal on the whole of the U.K.

But importantly the government have refused to provide an economic impact assessment to inform MP and allow it to be compared to earlier deals and my preferred option of Customs Union membership while leaving the Single Market but allowing close alignment. Even May allowed the economic impact assessment to be made available.

I talked to Granada Debates about the conflicting interests in the current debate and how difficult it is to make progress. I’ve always tried to remain open minded about a deal and for years made representations for a deal which protects the integrity of the U.K. and the economy of the country.

The votes will be extremely close today, whatever happens it is my belief that MPs in both lobbies are voting for what they believe is the right thing to do.

What was the point in that?

I can’t help but think that yesterdays Queens speech was a waste of time for everybody involved. The Prime Minister doesn’t want to let this parliament sit for long enough to enact any of the legislation that the Her Majesty put forward. It’s clear to anyone that thinks about the issue that the whole ceremony was nothing more than a cynical stunt by the government to make the Queen read a draft of the Conservative manifesto, when instead the Prime Minister should have been apologising for misleading her only weeks earlier.

There was no need for a Queens speech to introduce any of those planned bills, the government could have introduced them and extended the session. As we (eventually) saw with the Domestic Abuse Bill there are parliamentary means to ensure that progress on important bills isn’t lost when the parliamentary session ends. But we have spent enough time over the last three years going over the intricacies of parliamentary procedure, let us look at the substance of the speech.

The government has spent three years fighting with itself on Brexit, both the Prime Minister and his predecessor spent far too long ignoring the arithmetic in Parliament and look where that has got us: nowhere. It’s time for a common-sense solution to the issue, one that protects workers’ rights, environmental protections, consumer standards, and that upholds the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement with a customs union and a close relationship to the single market.

We’ve had nearly a decade of Tory austerity now; the economy is weak, productivity is falling, wages are lower than they were 10 years ago, there are more workers in poverty, more children in poverty, more people sleeping rough on our streets and more families without a safe and secure place to call home.

What did the Queens Speech have to say about towns like Oldham? Nothing. So much for Government’s commitment to the Stronger Towns Fund, they don’t have any plans to actually make them stronger. This was the Tory Party’s chance to make a pitch to towns like Oldham and they either forgot to mention what they could do for us or they simply just don’t care. I know which horse my money is on.

The parts of the speech about crime and justice, were nothing more than cynical headline grabbing attempts by the government in order for them to claim that the they are the party of law and order.

They cannot claim to be that party because they’re planning to hire 20,000 police officers, because it’s their fault they were cut in the first place. They cannot claim to care about justice given the state of our court system in this country, hundreds of them have closed and where they haven’t closed permanently only some of the court rooms are available for use because of the utter state of disrepair that this government has allowed to continue.

The rest of the announcements on public services just don’t hold water, the Conservative Party have been in Government for nearly ten years now. If they wanted to solve the issues the NHS has they’d have done it by now, if they wanted to make sure our education service fully supports our children they’d have done it by now, if they wanted to fix our prison system they’d have done it by now,  and if they wanted a strong economy that pays fair wages they’d have done it by now.

 

Bus franchising is the way forward

I know, because constituents regularly remind me, that the state of the bus service in Oldham and the rest of the city-region isn’t fit for purpose. Today the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has begun a public consultation period on whether to press ahead with a franchising system in our bus network.

Major cities all around the world have similar franchised bus systems, this system works in London, and there’s no reason it can’t work for us in Greater Manchester. Private bus companies have been allowed to act unaccountably by cutting routes, raising fares and generally running sub-par services for far too long now.

This consultation period is a great chance for residents to say exactly what they want from our bus services. The plan put forward by the GMCA is one I would encourage constituents to support, it lets us in Greater Manchester set the routes, timetables, standards and importantly the ticket prices.

To get involved and have your say on the future of our bus network, go to http://www.gmconsult.org and submit your consultation as I will be doing later on this week.

Jim McMahon MP ‘hopeful’ after Hays Travel buys Thomas Cook shops

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon is optimistic that the move by Hays Travel to buyout all 550 Thomas Cook shops will lead to saving the two Thomas Cook shops in the constituency.

Jim McMahon MP said, “I am hopeful that this move will ensure that the jobs at the two Thomas Cook shops in Oldham West and Royton will be saved, and the hardworking staff are rewarded for their years of service.

“Hopefully all 550 of the former Thomas Cook shops can reopen after they are acquired by Hays, and there are no more job losses. I understand it’s difficult for Hays Travel to promise to open all shops within days, but the fact they plan on taking on all former Thomas Cook retail staff is finally some good news coming out of this sorry saga.”

“The fact that Hay’s see this as a viable business opportunity does raise further questions as to how the company was allowed to go under in the first place. Our high streets need a boost so the news that these shops may now reopen across the country is welcome news for our town centres.”