My Diary Week Ending 12th November 2017.
It was great to walk round Scunthorpe Market as it comes up to the 45th anniversary of its fantastic Food Hall. I was catching up with those businesses shortlisted for the Best Market Stall category in my Small Business Saturday awards. There are just so many brilliant local businesses that the shortlisting was really challenging. Tomorrow the shortlist will go public. I was busy visiting businesses to get photos to use on my website a...nd a description of their activities they are happy with. I met some really great people. All very exciting!
Excitement was the name of the game at the Humberside Engineering Training Association HETA apprenticeships awards where I presented awards to so many fantastic local engineering apprentices. I also caught up with more great young people at North Lindsey College (pictured left) where they talked to me about how the college is missing out on being funded properly compared to schools. I was able to tell them that I led the debate in parliament on this very issue earlier in the Autumn.
We all need to keep the pressure up on the Chancellor so that he takes action to fund 16-19 year old education properly before it's too late. The Budget next week represents a great opportunity for him to do just that! Buses are important for young people getting about locally so I was delighted to drop in to Stagecoach and learn about the investment they are making in the local bus fleet with over £1 million spent on new fast cats and double deckers (pictured left).
The underfunding of transport in our area was something I spoke about in the debate on Transport in the North emphasising the need to improve the railway line that serves our area and to improve the north-south road links, including looking at dualling the A15.
As the Conservative North Lincolnshire Council continues to sell off bits of our area I presented a petition to save Kingsway Golf Course in Parliament. I wrote an Open Letter to the leaders of both the Conservative and Labour Groups on the Council asking them to commit to looking after our green spaces and protecting our heritage, like the grade 2 listed Civic Centre. I got a very positive response from the Labour Leader of the Opposition promising to do everything possible to preserve our green spaces and our heritage. Sadly the Conservative Council Leader whilst recognising that local people 'value green spaces' gave no assurances that the Council under his leadership won't continue to sell off beautiful parts of our area for building. He also gave no assurance that our heritage will be defended and protected by the Council. All very disappointing.
Remembrance Sunday always provides a time to reflect on the sacrifice of men and women from our Ironstone Area. It is always an immense privilege to lay a wreath on behalf of local people in respect and remembrance.
My Diary Week Ending 12th November 2017. It was great to walk round Scunthorpe Market as it comes up to the 45th anniversary of its fantastic Food Hall. I was...
My Diary Week Ending 5th November 2017
Whilst Westminster whirls around in scandal and crisis I've been getting on with the job of doing my best for local people. On the bigger questions that are being asked I think there urgently needs to be a process everyone trusts, where people who have any concerns about the behaviour of others in Parliament can safely raise issues so they are properly investigated and appropriate action taken.
Having been in the Labour whips' office for many years now I seem to have managed a sheltered life with no application of any dark arts. And in terms of difficult personnel issues coming my way I had far more when I was John Leggott College Principal!.
Getting on with the job means continuing to stand up for Scunthorpe Market so I was happy to present the largest local petition I have ever seen in the UK House of Commons last week. To have got 19,000 signatures in just 4 weeks shows how much people value the market and ought to make the Conservative Council think again.
Ashby Market is very different taking place just once a week so it is good that the first week in its new location on the Broadway seems to have gone well. Many Ashby traders were always positive about the change though there were serious concerns about how the consultation was managed.
Markets are a great place for small businesses to start so I have been delighted by the range and volume of nominations for the fantastic small businesses we have locally as part of my Small Business Saturday UK Awards. Nominations have now closed so now the difficult job of shortlisting begins.
As well as the Federation of Small Businesses and the Admin Centre I am joined by last year's great winners - the The Crows Nest Barbers and Taylor's Family Butchers - to do the shortlisting this year. Small businesses grow in to larger businesses so it was good to meet up with the local business leaders when I met with the Hull and Humber Chamber this week. It was good to hear that business is doing pretty well though there was also quite a strong call for getting on with the process of leaving the EU in a way that takes away uncertainty.
Sadly that's not something that's going to happen any time soon! I also dropped into 2 Sisters Food Group to be updated on their work. They are having unannounced visits from their retail customers every day as well as visits from the Food Standards Agencyand North Lincolnshire Council. The visits have all gone well.
It was good to visit the Cancer Research UK labs near the Royal Marsden and see first-hand the world class research that is going on. As November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month I was very pleased to show my support for the pancreatic cancer charities by hosting an event in parliament. Finally after doing my first ever volunteering for Scunthorpe parkrun on Saturday I nipped across the road to the Scunthorpe Baptist Church who were hosting the Global Leadership Summit for the seventh time. Well done to everyone for making this happen.
My Diary Week Ending 5th November 2017 Whilst Westminster whirls around in scandal and crisis I've been getting on with the job of doing my best for local people. On...
My Diary Week Ending 22nd October 2017
It's been a busy week of good stuff! I launched my Small Business Saturday competition and we already have over 100 nominations. This is an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic contribution our small businesses make to the local economy and local community. As well as the Champion Small Business and Great Customer Service categories I am having a special award this year for the Best Market Stall. Why not go on line and nominate your fa...vourite businesses at www.nicdakin.com
The response of our community to the threat to Scunthorpe Market has been fantastic with around 19,000 people signing the petition in just 4 weeks asking the Tory Council think again. Our businesses also need to make the best of local talent. So it was great to join a multitude of local employers at an inspiring ThisAbility event held at Glanford Park. This showed how people with disabilities can make a huge contribution in the workplace and was quite inspirational. People were still buzzing about it the next day when I bumped into them at an equally inspiring Women Into Manufacturing and Engineering event held at the Humber UTC.
Inspiration was the name of the game at St Hugh's SEN School where students were being presented with some fabulous books to read over the coming half term. And I have nothing but the biggest admiration for the inspiring people at the Neuro Rehabilitation Centre based in Goole who transform the lives of local people who suffer brain injury. It was good to join them for their celebration. They perform miracles as do Small Miracles Pre-School who I dropped in to see their fantastic new extension.
In Westminster I was involved in a Mindfulness conference for parliamentarians across the world. It is good to learn more about the way this practice is helping in health, education and justice. Other stuff this week included another Steel All Party Group meeting, chairing a round table on the treatment of eczema, taking part in a discussion about T levels, dropping in to yet another Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning (this time in the House of Commons!), and catching up with local champions of Initial Teacher Training.
It was also good to catch up with University of Lincoln students on a day in which Labour won a by-election on the City Council. I'm really proud of my colleagues Chris Bryant MP and Holly Lynch MP whose campaigning has seen the Assault on Emergency Workers private member's bill progress to the next stage. It's important the people who put themselves on the front line to protect us are protected themselves.
Finally on that note of protection your local community pharmacy can give you a flu vaccine to protect you this winter. Whitworth Chemists Scunthorpe at Brumby Corner administered the jab to me at the end of Friday (see picture) and apart from a slightly sore arm I've had no reaction. So I should be fighting fit this Winter!!!
My Diary Week Ending 22nd October 2017 It's been a busy week of good stuff! I launched my Small Business Saturday competition and we already have over 100 nominations. This...
My Diary Week Ending 15th October 2017.
I discover something new about our area and the people who live and work here every week. That's the joy of this strange job I do! So, as I am about to launch my annual celebration of local Small Business Saturday UK, it was good to discover a small business that has been around for some time Crawford Metal Decectors (see picture) based on the Foxhills Industrial Estate.
A great little business that is doing very well in a niche market. While I was there a customer came in waxing lyrical about finding a Victorian penny on his first metal detecting outing and wondering about the person who lost it over 150 years ago. Stories and dreams! Excitement and wonder!
Leeds Bradford Airport is a business that creates stories and dreams for others but has probably been punching below its weight. So it was good to go across and meet the new Chief Executive to hear about how he hopes to develop the business. From our area's point of view more competition and choice can only be a good thing.
In Parliament I was able to speak up in support of Scunthorpe Market whiich now has over 18,000 signatures on a Save Scunthorpe Market petition. Surely Conservative North Lincolnshire Council will listen to the will of the people it is there to serve! And I presented a petition I'd received from the Bangladesh Welfare Association North Lincolnshire urging the Government to take action to support the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.
The All Party Steel Group met with the British Steel Pension Scheme trustees. Several things became very clear as a result. Firstly it is crucially important people make a positive choice between transferring to BSPS2 or falling into the Pension Protection Fund (which is what will happen if no choice is made) by 11th December 2017. There are roadshows being held at The Baths Hall during 24th October. If at all possible people affected should get along to one of these and ask the questions they have.
Health matters continue to be a major priority so I was pleased to catch up with regional and local members of the Royal College of Nursing. Getting our nursing numbers right is so important. It is positive news that the Government is lifting the cap on pay but this will only have the desired impact of improving recruitment, retention and morale if it is properly funded. And I followed up concerns about the reliability of the patient transport service by meeting with Thames Ambulance Group who recognised they have not been delivering the service patients have a right to expect and committed to get things right in future.
Hopefully that will be the case. I will be monitoring very carefully.
Finally it was good to see so many healthy youngsters when I gave out trophies and medals for the local six a side soccer competition held at Premier Pitch, Kettering Road.
My Diary Week Ending 15th October 2017. I discover something new about our area and the people who live and work here every week. That's the joy of this strange...
My Diary Week Ending 8th October 2017.
Former Prime Minister John Major adds his voice today to the many who are raising serious concerns about the likely impact of Universal Credit as it is about to be rolled out in North Lincolnshire.
I and my staff team have had a number of very useful briefings form Jobcentre Plus staff who are keen to make the new system work. But the devil will be in the detail of implementation. One of the biggest areas of concern is the change that means that rent will be paid to the tenant to pass on to the landlord, rather than going to the landlord direct. With people in the pilot areas having to wait around 6 weeks for their first payment the pressure to spend when the money comes through has meant rent arrears rising. So I was pleased to spend time with the fabulous Ongo UK team who try to get people back on track when they get into arrears. They were hugely professional and firm but fair in their approach to tenants in difficulty.
The last thing they want is for tenants to lose their home and they were very concerned that Universal Credit has the potential to make this more likely. I also met with the Council to see how well prepared they are for the task ahead. I reminded them of their lamentable performance in using Discretionary Housing Payments to support local people who get into difficulty.
Believe it or not Conservative North Lincolnshire is the worst performing council in the country sending most of its Discretionary Housing Payment money back to the Government rather than spending it on helping local people, which seems ridiculous.
On the theme of housing I had a meeting with Lincoln Court residents concerned about the likely impact of the scooter policy that Ongo are now enforcing. I have had representations from a number of people across area on this issue. Hopefully Ongo will find a way to address their concerns around safety without jeopardising residents' independence.
I've written to Thames Ambulance Service about complaints I've received about their service. When they took over the patient transport service a year ago they were full of good intentions and high ambition but that doesn't seem to being matched by what is now going on.
Another service that isn't quite delivering how local people want it to is the police. Since massive Conservative Government cuts of over 20% they do seem to have been struggling form one reorganisation to another and the number of concerns I've received from local businesses about the impact of anti-social behaviour on them has risen. So I was pleased to meet with the new Chief Inspector for our area who was able to assure me that there will be an increase in resources locally and that should lead to a better service.
It was great to pop into St Lawrence Academy, Scunthorpe and see how well the new school year has started. I also enjoyed meeting potential apprentices and a range of employers at North Lindsey Colleges apprenticeship event.
Congratulations to North Lindsey College on progressing their merger with Doncaster College and University Centre which they are confident will make them even stronger and more able to respond to the needs of our area.
Another successful business I spent time with last week was our local independent Wortley House Hotel who have such an excellent reputation and are totally committed to our area.
Finally the week wouldn't have been complete without another visit to Scunthorpe Market this time to look round the non food stores. There is such a buzz from customers and traders and a determination to make Conservative North Lincolnshire think again before it makes 250 people lose their livelihoods by moving the market. If you haven't already signed the petition to Save Scunthorpe Market please do so at: https://www.change.org/p/north-lincolnshire-council-save-sc…
My Diary Week Ending 8th October 2017. Former Prime Minister John Major adds his voice today to the many who are raising serious concerns about the likely impact of Universal...