Mary Creagh MP

Working hard for Wakefield

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If you’re lucky, you might be escaping to a beach, in Britain or abroad, over the summer holidays. The sun was out this week, and you might have had a chance to enjoy the seaside. What you won’t see are the tiny plastic particles that are contaminating our seas, rivers and oceans.

 Beach.jpg

This pollution - microplastic pollution - is something that Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which I chair, has been investigating.

Microplastics are small abrasive beads that wash down the drain. Most of us would be horrified to learn how many bathroom products contain this plastic rubbish: they are in facial scrubs, toothpastes, washing powders, household cleaners, and even clothes. Did you know that washing a fleece can release 1 million microfibres, which go down the drain, and into the sea?

An estimated 680 tonnes of microplastics from cosmetic products used in the UK enter the sea every year. There they are eaten by fish, shellfish and other marine life. Over one in three fish in the English Channel are now contaminated with microplastic particles: stuck in their stomachs, they reduce their ability to digest food and can stunt growth. They are also harmful to the tiny sea creatures that fish eat.

Microplastics can end up on our dinner plates, too. Scientists estimate if you’ve eaten six oysters then you have probably eaten around 50 microplastic particles. And we have no idea what impact this could have on human health.

Seabirds are also suffering. Over the summer, you might be planning a trip with the kids to the Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve. A typical seabird carries up to 10% of its bodyweight in plastic in its stomach - something to remember when you’re next watching the gannets and kittiwakes.

What can we do? President Obama recently passed a law banning the use of microbeads in cosmetic products in the US, with other countries following suit. My Committee’s report is out next Wednesday, but if you want to check if your favourite scrub contains MIcrobeads, the handy ‘Beat the Bead’ app allows you to scan a product’s barcode and find out: www.beatthemicrobead.org.

The EU has been crucial to cleaning up our beaches and rivers, tackling air pollution and protecting our biodiversity, and I’m concerned that this Government could sweep these vital protections away when we leave. Last month I wrote to David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, calling on him to commit to environmental protection in the exit negotiations.

Finally, there is further evidence of the pressure our NHS budget is under from this government, with the proposals to close King St walk-in centre. This is a widely used service and takes a great deal of strain away from Pinderfields A&E. I am concerned that the closure of King St will put huge pressure on our hospital services. I urge Express readers to sign my petition on my website - www.marycreagh.com/savekingst. We can only invest in our NHS, tackle child poverty and create decent jobs if we are in government which is why I am backing Owen Smith in the Labour leadership elections. Owen has promised to boost NHS spending by 4% a year and I believe he is the best person to lead Labour back to government.

This article was first published by the Wakefield Express on 19 August 2016.

Wakefield Express column August 2016

If you’re lucky, you might be escaping to a beach, in Britain or abroad, over the summer holidays. The sun was out this week, and you might have had a...

Mary has congratulated all those receiving their A-level results this week, but expressed her concern at cuts to support for those who plan to start university in the autumn.

exams.jpgAround 800 students a year from low income families in Wakefield receive grants of up to £3,387 a year to help with their living costs while at university.

But the government scrapped these grants for students starting university this autumn and replaced them with bigger student loans.  This means those students will have to borrow more than their more affluent counterparts to go to university, which may put some off from going.

Responding to today’s A-level results, Mary said:

“Congratulations to everyone in Wakefield receiving their A-level results and good luck with your future plans.  Sadly, the government has scrapped maintenance grants for students from families whose income is under £25000 a year.  I will be keeping an eagle eye on the figures to ensure that this retrograde step does not put off bright students from our district from realising their dreams of going to university.  Poorer students should not be penalised just because the government got its sums wrong."

Students face more borrowing and more debt to go to university

Mary has congratulated all those receiving their A-level results this week, but expressed her concern at cuts to support for those who plan to start university in the autumn.

Mary has condemned the Conservative Government for presiding over a slump in home ownership in West Yorkshire.

houseprices.jpgAccording to new analysis published by living standards think-tank the Resolution Foundation, home ownership in West Yorkshire fell from a peak of 70% in April 2003 to 60% in February this year.

Drops of 10% in West Yorkshire and 14% in Manchester show that the slump in home ownership is no longer simply a London issue. In the capital, home ownership has fallen only 6% since its peak, albeit to 36%.

The current 64% rate of home ownership is the lowest seen since 1986, although the English Housing Survey found that most tenants would prefer to own a home. The average price paid by a first-time buyer was just under £30,000. The same figure exceeded £150,000 in 2015.

Responding to the findings, Mary said: “From its historic peak of over 70% under a Labour Government in 2003, home ownership has plummeted by 10% in West Yorkshire, exposing the myth that the Tories are the party of home ownership. The cost of a deposit continues to rise at a faster rate than wages, meaning for more and more Wakefield families, owning their own home is an increasingly distant dream. Theresa May needs to commit to tackling this crisis not just in words but through action - her Government has a long way to go.”

Home ownership a distant dream in West Yorkshire

Mary has condemned the Conservative Government for presiding over a slump in home ownership in West Yorkshire.


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