Holly Lynch MP

Working hard for the people of Halifax, Illingworth & Mixenden, Town, Ovenden, Park, Skircoat, Northowram & Shelf, Sowerby Bridge and Warley

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Letter to Secretary of State for Health regarding hospital reconfigurations, staff shortages and budgetary pressures

The deterioration in the situation in Gaza over the last few days has shaken the world. The unacceptable increase in violence requires an immediate international response, and I have sought to reply to those who have contacted me via email as soon as possible with an update from Westminster. 

Monday alone saw over 50 Palestinian protesters killed in Gaza, with a further 2,000 injured in the latest clashes triggered by President Trump’s reckless decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Those numbers include children and medical personnel who were at the scene trying to deliver medical attention.

Palestinians have now endured 70 years of displacement, 51 years of military occupation and, in Gaza, more than a decade of blockade. It is estimated that in the region of 9,000 families still remain displaced following the 2014 conflict in Gaza, as they are unable to rebuild. The region is without electricity for most of the day making sanitation, cooking, and healthcare almost impossible.

Although we were not allowed to enter into the Gaza strip, I visited Jerusalem and the West Bank in November last year and met with organisations including the PLO, Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem as well as visiting refugee camps and Bedouin communities at risk of demolition.

I kept a video diary whilst I was there which captured the desperate situation. I have shown this footage to Halifax Friends of Palestine and you can watch a short version of this online here.

I have used this experience to work with colleagues to continually push the Government, in letters and debates, to do more to bring about an enduring peace in the region, for both the West Bank and the Gaza strip, and to hold Israel to account for their violations of international law in the occupied territories.

I have also joined with my colleagues from the trip in lobbying businesses such as ‘Air BnB’ to withdraw accommodation in the Israeli illegal settlements in the West Bank as tourist destinations. This work is ongoing but is something we feel very strongly about and will continue to pursue. 

On Tuesday in the House of Commons Chamber I attended Labour’s urgent question to the Government on the situation and can assure you that the Government Minister for the region was left in no doubt that Labour MPs wanted to see immediate condemnation of Israeli actions in the area, and a renewed focus on a peace process to bring about an enduring peace, based on human rights for all.  

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and EU Representative Federica Mogherini have called for an independent and impartial investigation which I support wholeheartedly.

One of my first contributions as a newly elected MP in 2015 was to secure a parliamentary debate which considered the UN’s report into Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Estimates suggest that in that conflict between 2,125 and 2,310 Gazans were killed and between 10,626 and 10,895 were wounded. That included 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were left permanently disabled. It was the UN’s full report into that conflict which gave us the evidence base to truly uncover the scale of the humanitarian crisis and why I believe that the case for a full UN investigation into this week’s hostilities is self-evident.

I will continue to follow the situation closely and raise the issue both nationally and internationally wherever possible to seek to bring peace to the region, based on mutual respect and the upholding of international law and human rights.

Statement on Gaza

The deterioration in the situation in Gaza over the last few days has shaken the world. The unacceptable increase in violence requires an immediate international response, and I have sought...

Halifax MP Holly Lynch and Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon MP have warned that court closures are making it harder to secure justice, following a visit by Mr Burgon to Halifax where he met with local lawyers and politicians.

Calderdale Magistrates’ Court and Halifax County Court and Family Court closed in December 2016 marking the end of 140 years of justice provision in Halifax.

The closures were opposed at the time by local campaigners and Holly Lynch, who called on the Government to adopt a compromise position; closing just the County Court while maintaining provision at the Magistrates’ Court.

Halifax solicitor Mark Baxendale, of Baxendale Vanzie Solicitors on Prescott Street, explained the impact of Government cuts to the justice budget, saying:

"We are renowned for having one of the best Criminal Justice Systems in the world, but it cannot work unless the Government invests in it.

“There are major issues around inadequate prosecution disclosure, court closures and poorly maintained buildings.

“The present Lord Chancellor David Gauke recently said that he wanted to fix the ‘shattered justice system’ - this can be achieved but will require investment.

“I have been practicing as a Defence Solicitor for the best part of twenty five years and the morale within the Crown Prosecution Service, Probation Service, Court staff and Criminal Defence Practitioners has never been so low.”

Mr Burgon also heard how the closures meant that cases which were previously heard in Halifax were now being sent to Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds. Speaking after the meeting he said:

“The Government sold off over a hundred courts such as those in Halifax, each for not much more than the average UK house price. These sell offs have piled yet more pressure on the remaining courts and have seen hearings being further delayed and rescheduled. This can have a distressing impact on victims and witnesses and creates a justice system that’s less accessible for local people.

“Labour would invest in our justice system to ensure that those who need to defend their rights in the courts can do so.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch hopes that video court links could help make it easier for people to give evidence without a lengthy journey out of town. She said:

“I have been repeatedly assured that the court closures in Halifax would be off-set by an investment from the Ministry of Justice in video links from certain locations in town which could live stream people’s testimony to any courtroom in the country.

“I have seen this technology in action during a fact finding trip to Kent Police last year and I’m convinced that it would solve a lot of the current issues. If already over-worked police, council staff and social workers, as well as victims of crime, are having to spend a whole day travelling to court and giving evidence this isn’t a good use of their time.

“A modern video link would help secure access to justice in our area and I’ll continue my campaign to ensure this investment takes place.”

Concerns over access to justice after Halifax court closures

Halifax MP Holly Lynch and Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon MP have warned that court closures are making it harder to secure justice, following a visit by Mr Burgon to...

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Halifax MP Holly Lynch and her husband Chris Walker have announced they are expecting their first child this autumn.

Ms Lynch said she plans to take a short maternity break from Westminster, but that her constituency office and team will remain in place to continue assisting the people of Halifax with any casework issues during that period.

Ms Lynch said: “My husband Chris and I are excited to be welcoming another member to our family, and I look forward to the challenge of being both a Mum and an MP.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch announces pregnancy

Halifax MP Holly Lynch and her husband Chris Walker have announced they are expecting their first child this autumn. Ms Lynch said she plans to take a short maternity break...

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The NHS in Yorkshire is facing a staffing crisis which is putting patient safety at risk according to the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP), and Halifax MP Holly Lynch is calling on the Government to act.

The RCP’s annual census looks at workforce challenges in the NHS and is used to highlight areas where frontline posts remain unfilled. It has found that during 2016/17 43% of advertised consultant posts in Yorkshire and the Humber were not filled and in acute medicine only 5 out of 26 posts were appointed to successfully.

The report also highlights the problems of an ageing workforce with 37% of consultants currently working in Yorkshire and the Humber set to reach the planned average retirement age over the next decade.

The Royal College believe that these staff shortages have direct implications for patients with 22% of consultants surveyed stating that trainee rota gaps have a significant impact on patient safety.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch is calling on the Government to tackle the staffing crisis. She said:

“These worrying figures show the impact of nearly a decade of Conservative mismanagement of the NHS.

“NHS staff feel undervalued and overworked meaning increasing numbers are either leaving the service or moving overseas. In addition, as a country we are not training enough medical students or alternatively attracting enough doctors and nurses from abroad.

“The impact of this is that wards are frequently understaffed as vacant posts are left unfilled, and patients are ultimately put at greater risk.

“The Government need to go much further to ensure that our brilliant NHS staff are properly valued and that more of the next generation consider training as medical students.”

Doctors group warn NHS in Yorkshire is ‘underfunded, underdoctored and overstretched’

The NHS in Yorkshire is facing a staffing crisis which is putting patient safety at risk according to the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP), and Halifax MP Holly Lynch is...

Holly Lynch and her Shadow DEFRA colleagues have responded to the news from Brussels of a Brexit deal that will seriously let down the fishing industry and coastal communities.

Labour’s Shadow Fisheries Minister Holly Lynch MP said;

“Michael Gove and George Eustice have been promising the Fishing Industry that the UK would take back absolute control of our waters from day one of leaving the EU.

“We now know that the rest of the Government have been having very different conversations with the EU27 and it is understandable that fishing communities feel so angry and let down.

Labour’s statement responding to the latest news from Brussels on fishing over the weekend

Holly Lynch and her Shadow DEFRA colleagues have responded to the news from Brussels of a Brexit deal that will seriously let down the fishing industry and coastal communities. Labour’s... Read more

When The Guardian ran the article ‘Halifax, the new Shoreditch of the North’ last weekend, a phrase coined by BBC 6 Music radio station, I couldn’t help but agree with former Barnsley MP and new CEO of UK Music Michael Dugher who tweeted ‘Maybe Shoreditch is the Halifax of the South!’

For anyone not familiar with Shoreditch, I’m reliably informed it’s a trendy part of London known for its fashionable bars and restaurants, artists, and a thriving live music scene. So whilst we are keen to be our own, proud northern town, it’s great to think we are firmly on the national map for all that we now have to offer. The selection of eating and drinking establishments has improved immensely over the last few years with a number of specialist craft beer bars and coffee outlets joining the varied selection of restaurants in the town. There’s also lots going on culturally in Halifax.

We’ve got a diverse array of museums, arts venues and performance spaces such as the Square Chapel, Victoria Theatre and the Artworks - which hosted a well-received Quentin Blake exhibition last year. Eureka has boasted it’s best year ever with record numbers through the doors.And the live music in our town is as good as it has been in decades. Halifax has previously played host to The Jacksons, Rod Stewart, Dusty Springfield and The Kinks to name but a few. So it’s really exciting that venues like The Lantern and Grayston Unity are once again hosting packed live music events, and the Piece Hall is hosting a huge concert in May.

It is hard to keep up with the number of accolades and awards the Piece Hall has received since it reopened just 6 months ago, with visitor numbers rivalling some of the country’s top attractions. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to Halifax last week was another great showcase for our town.I was very proud in Westminster last week to hear Sir Gary Verity brief MPs from across the region about the upcoming ‘Tour de Yorkshire’. He talked about how the final stage was going to be a platform to show off the stunning Piece Hall to the rest of the world, a day that we are very much looking forward to.

Calderdale Council deserve credit for their vision and role in this success. Since 2010 the Conservative Government have cut over £90m from their budget, however they have continued to invest where they can and fight to secure further investment from sources such as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the National Lottery. Alongside the Piece Hall Trust and Welcome to Yorkshire they are great advocates of our area.With what’s left of council funding now mainly dedicated to funding care for the vulnerable, think what more we could have achieved as a town if the Government hadn’t slashed the money available for tackling litter, supporting music and the arts, and investing in regeneration.

Our area still faces many challenges and you only have to look at the former crown post office, the disused courts and the growing homelessness on the streets, to see how the Conservative approach of nearly a decade of cuts has failed us.However, there are a growing number of reasons to be positive about Halifax, making me prouder than ever, to represent our town in Westminster.

Halifax Courier Column - Proud to represent our town

When The Guardian ran the article ‘Halifax, the new Shoreditch of the North’ last weekend, a phrase coined by BBC 6 Music radio station, I couldn’t help but agree with...

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Halifax MP Holly Lynch has written to Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding an urgent explanation, after shock new figures suggested that mental health care funding in Calderdale has fallen in each of the last five years.

Mental health care in Calderdale is primarily provided by the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) who provide community, mental health and learning disability services to the people of Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

New figures from the Royal College of Psychiatrists show that SWYPFT has seen its income fall in real terms from £ 250,361,000 in 2011/12, to £229,907,000 in 2016/17, once inflation is taken into account. They are one of only nine mental health trusts in England to have seen a year on year decline in their income (in real terms) every year since 2012.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for mental health trusts to be given more money and for better ways of tracking where mental health money is being spent. It fears some of that money is failing to reach the frontline.

The figures appear to contradict the Government’s assertion that mental health spending is at “record” levels and comes as demand for services soars, with some trusts saying a lack of funds has forced them to cut services.

In addition to this, Ms Lynch has warned that cuts to Calderdale Clinical Commissioning group’s budget have also forced them to stop funding to a number of mental health community projects, all contributing to a lack of provision for mental health. 

Labour’s Holly Lynch, who is demanding an explanation from the Government, said:

“I have written to Jeremy Hunt to ask him why funding fallen year on year. I want the people of Halifax to be able to get the best possible mental health treatment when they need it, and where they need it.

“Having spent time with the out-of-hours mental health services and the police, supporting people who are undergoing a mental health crisis, so often early intervention work could and should have been in place long before a crisis presented itself. 

“I am calling on the Government to fund our mental health trusts properly. For our local mental health trust to have had their funding fall every year for five years goes completely against the government’s claims that they will properly fund mental health trusts.”

Mental Health Champion for Calderdale, Cllr Adam Wilkinson, said:

“The government say that mental health is a priority for them, and there is much talk about parity of esteem with physical health, but the reality is that funding for many frontline services is actually being cut. Patients then suffer as they can’t access the care they need.”

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Professor Wendy Burn

Professor Wendy Burn, the College’s president, said: “It is totally unacceptable that when more and more people are coming forward with mental health problems, trusts are receiving less investment than they did five years ago.”

“Patients with mental illness continue to bear the brunt of an underfunded sector experiencing unprecedented demand with limited supply.

“Prioritisation of mental health is about getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place. This can’t happen when mental health trusts continue to receive inadequate investment.”

MP calls for action as shock figures suggest mental health spending in Calderdale has fallen every year since 2012

Halifax MP Holly Lynch has written to Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding an urgent explanation, after shock new figures suggested that mental health care funding in Calderdale has fallen...

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To mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, Co-Chair of the All Party Group on Fairtrade Holly Lynch attended a celebratory event in Parliament this week.

The event, sponsored by Co-op, gave MPs from across the political spectrum the chance to show their support for Fairtrade, chat to supporters and campaigners, hear the stories of Fairtrade producers and sample some delicious Fairtrade produce.

Parliamentarians also got the chance to pose for photographs with Fairtrade Ambassador Nick Hewer, famous for his roles on Countdown and The Apprentice.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 will challenge the British public to open their doors to Fairtrade and help close the door on the exploitation facing the people who produce the things we love to eat, drink, and wear.

The nationwide campaign ‘Come On In’ runs from Monday 26 February until Sunday 11 March and will invite the public to come in to the world of the people who grow our food to see what life can be like when farmers and workers aren’t paid fairly.

Thousands of events will be taking place around the country including breakfasts, breaks, bake-offs and more as people ‘come on in’ and find out more about Fairtrade. There will be a series of events at the Piece Hall, Halifax, on 3rd March run by the Halifax Fairtrade Group and Holly.

The campaign will explore how businesses, farmers, workers and shoppers can come together through Fairtrade to change this.

Holly said:

“There was amazing support for Fairtrade Fortnight in Westminster this week. I want to thank Greggs and the Coop for supporting the Fairtrade APPG event and special thanks to Fairtrade champion Nick Hewer."

Cheryl McGechie, Director of Public Engagement, The Fairtrade Foundation said:

“This Fairtrade Fortnight, we are inviting people to ‘come on in’ to see what Fairtrade does for farmers and see what exploitation looks like when trade doesn’t deliver.

“There has never been a better time to stand alongside the people who produce the products we love to eat, drink and wear. People who often do not earn enough to feed or provide for their own families.

“This unfairness must end. By buying Fairtrade you are guaranteeing farmers a fairer price for their efforts. This Fairtrade Fortnight come on into Fairtrade.”

Holly praises 'amazing support' for Fairtrade at Parliamentary reception

To mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, Co-Chair of the All Party Group on Fairtrade Holly Lynch attended a celebratory event in Parliament this week. The event, sponsored by Co-op,...

Labour MP Holly Lynch and local councillors have expressed their deep concern at ‘shocking’ new crime statistics for the Sowerby Bridge area. 

The latest statistics for the ward, released by West Yorkshire Police this week, show a rise in overall crime of over a third year on year.

Anti-social behaviour has increased by almost 60% and theft from motor vehicles is up by a staggering 162%. A total of 769 crimes have been recorded in the area in the year to date compared to 571 last year.

Sowerby Bridge Councillor Dot Foster said:

“These statistics are truly shocking and show exactly why our police need more resources.

“It has been clear for some time that problems such anti-social behaviour have been getting worse but there are simply not enough police officers to tackle it. 

“As a councillor I have been working with the police and other agencies to try and remedy the problem and I am pleased that the Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson is working hard to find the money to recruit new officers.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch has spent a number of shifts with the police locally and has been leading a national campaign to bring in new legislation to protect emergency service workers.

She said:

“We have lost 2000 police staff since 2010, a reduction of 20% of the force so it really is no surprise that the effects of these government cuts are being acutely felt in our communities.

“As well as simply having fewer officers, we are increasingly seeing officers ‘single crewed’, and deployed to emergencies on their own. If police officers themselves are not safe, then communities are not safe and only more boots on the ground will help us take back control of escalating crime.   

“A Labour government would properly invest in our police service, recruiting an extra police officer for every ward in the country.”

Labour calls for urgent action as crime soars in Sowerby Bridge

Labour MP Holly Lynch and local councillors have expressed their deep concern at ‘shocking’ new crime statistics for the Sowerby Bridge area.  The latest statistics for the ward, released by...

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