Pledge to develop landmark £2 bus fare for young people on Merseyside

Young people on Merseyside are set to benefit from cheaper travel after Merseytravel and bus operators recently committed to develop a £2 flat fare all-day bus ticket which could reduce the cost of travel by more than 50 per cent.

At a recent event held at Merseytravel’s offices, I joined local authority leaders and representatives from education establishments to hear the announcement as part of the launch of the Merseytravel-led initiative ‘Fare Enough: A fair deal for young people’.

Subject to details being finalised, the ticket, a Merseytravel product developed in partnership with bus operators, will be available for those 16 and under to buy on the bus from April for a trial period.

The £2 ticket will be the most flexible product available for young people. It will be able to be used all day and comes ahead of Merseytravel undertaking a full review of its pre-paid ticketing scheme.

The event reinforced the importance of transport for young people and highlighted some of the issues that they face, the development of a £2 ticket is a step in the right direction and shows what can be done by working together to find affordable solutions.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day, this week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, honouring those who died during the Holocaust as well as honouring the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured.

Monday 27th January will mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of my community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.

Holocaust Memorial Day was established following an MP’s visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Moved by his visit, Andrew Dismore MP proposed a bill, “to introduce a day to learn and remember the Holocaust” on 30th June 1999.

The Holocaust Educational Trust has been closely involved in the establishment and development of Holocaust Memorial Day since its inception in 2000. Holocaust Memorial Day is now coordinated by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

The theme for the UK Holocaust Memorial Day 2014 is ‘Journeys’, encouraging us to learn how journeys themselves became part of genocide and also about the life stories of journeys that brought survivors to the UK.

Commemorating the life of Nelson Mandela

I joined the march and commemoration for Nelson Mandela at the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre in Liverpool, yesterday (Sunday 15th December).

I was deeply moved by the profound sense of loss across the community.

The speakers were inspiring, particularly the contributions from ANC member Shirley Mashiane-Talbot and from Dave Evans who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.

I visited Robben Island some years ago, and was shown around by the guides who had been imprisoned there under the apartheid regime.

That visit made a lasting impact on me.

The legacy of this great man, in defeating injustice and creating harmony out of conflict, must live on.

Better Access to Bus Travel for Blind and Partially Sighted People

I recently spoke to blind and partially sighted people about the difficulties they face when travelling by bus, on a visit to the offices of RNIB / Action for Blind People.

The visit was part of the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) bus campaign which is calling on bus operators to remember one simple principle: Stop for me, Speak to me.

A recent RNIB survey of blind and partially sighted people revealed a number of barriers:

  • 9 in 10 people with sight loss cannot see an approaching bus in time to hail it
  • 8 in 10 people with sight loss say they miss the bus they want
  • 6 in 10 people said buses which stopped away from the official bus stop caused them to often miss their bus or step off the bus into hazards such as bins and lampposts
  • Over half of respondents said they had difficulty obtaining spoken information from the driver such as the bus number and destination.

I also joined the group on a short bus journey around Liverpool City Centre to see first hand the difficulties that people with sight problems may experience when travelling by bus, and why it is important for operator staff to have training in supporting disabled passengers.

Bus operators need to take into account the needs of disabled passengers with all impairments, including blind and partially sighted people. Bus travel is often the only affordable means of transport available and so needs to be accessible to passengers with sight problems.

More information about the campaign can be found at http://www.rnib.org.uk/bus or by calling RNIB’s campaigns hotline on 020 7391 2123.

North Liverpool Community Justice Centre

Yesterday afternoon in Parliament I secured and spoke in a Westminster Hall debate about the decision to shut the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre. Plans are to close the centre and move its workload to Sefton magistrates’ court in Bootle.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported on the story and you can read it here:

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/shutdown-north-liverpool-community-justice-6253529

You can read my speech to Westminster Hall here: http://bit.ly/18Cih7x

The decision to close the centre was rushed through by the Government. Many people did not have the chance to submit their views.

The Justice Centre has pioneered new approaches to offenders and provides key support services to those in debt, tackling drug addiction and victim and witness support.

This will be a big loss.

Liverpool’s Triathalon with a difference!

In February I highlighted the work of BikeRight!

https://louiseellman.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/bikeright-delivering-eight-new-cycle-stands-to-promote-greener-commuter-travel/

Kirkdale based cycle training organisation BikeRight! has just run its first fun urban triathlon to encourage people from across North Liverpool to use sustainable, healthy forms of transport in their daily lives. Rather than the traditional swim-run-cycle format, the Choose Freedom triathlon used walk-train-cycle to highlight the different ways of getting around. It’s aim? To improve health and increase employment opportunities.

The first Tri-Freedom Challenge took place on 4th September with a walk starting at Breckfield and North Everton Neighbourhood Council. After a 1.5 mile walk participants then took the train from Sandhills Station to Waterloo Station before embarking on the third leg of triathlon – a 4 mile circular from Crosby Lakeside Activity Centre.

The Tri-Freedom Challenge forms part of Liverpool City Council’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund programme, which is fully funded by the Department for Transport.

BikeRight! is responsible for many innovative projects in Merseyside working with businesses and residents to encourage safe cycling to promote wellbeing and improved employment opportunities. Their Choose Freedom project in North Liverpool encourages residents of Everton and Kirkdale to get on their bikes and enjoy the freedom, savings, health benefits and increased job opportunities afforded by cycling and walking.

http://www.bikeright.co.uk/freedom

Supporting the fight against Dementia

This week I promised to work with the Alzheimer’s Society and support the 800,000 people living with Dementia across the UK.

One in three people over 65 will develop Dementia.  It is a health issue that we cannot afford to ignore.

You can find out more information about Alzheimer’s Society by visiting www.alzheimers.org.uk

To find out more about Dementia Friends, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk

I am pictured at the recent Dementia event in Parliament, with Arlene Phillips, Alzheimer’s Society ambassador.