The week began with the very sad news of Councillor Pauline Carlile's passing after a brave fight against illness. Pauline was someone who was steeped in Labour values of community and family. She served her community well and will be very much missed by everyone.
After attending the festival of fun and volunteering that was Scunthorpe Rotary's third Disability Games at the Pods it was fitting that I popped along to a Scunthorpe Pentagon Rotary Meeting to share views on how things are going locally and nationally. Rotary are one of many groups that contribute a huge amount.
Another is our Town and Parish councils, so I was pleased to take advantage of the Westminster recess and attend a Bottesford Town Council meeting. The big concerns were about the changes to bus routes, the cutting down of trees along Bottesford Beck and the planning application for a waste transfer station near housing close to Bottesford Town Football Club. When I had been chatting to residents on Goodwood they also highlighted the planning application so I was pleased to learn later in the week that Veolia was withdrawing its plans for now. Let's hope they don't come back. It is not an appropriate place to have such a development so close to people's homes.
The other big news of the week locally was the Care Quality Commission's report on Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Trust putting our local hospitals back into special measures. This is very bad news for all of us that rely on Scunthorpe General Hospital. I know from my very many visits that it is full of amazing staff working extremely hard. However it is clear that something is systemically wrong. The new interim leadership has a responsibility to turn things round quickly for all our sakes.
Community pharmacies are doing more and more innovative things as I found out when I visited Whitworths at Brumby corner and learnt more about the consultations they now do and their capacity to prescribe directly for minor ailments. The Government should be investing in this part of the health service closest to communities not cutting their funding as they are doing. The Kirton Surgery is one of several locally that is also a Dispensing Doctors so it was good to drop in to be briefed on their work too.
At Rathside Rest Home in Scawby I carried out the very positive duty of opening their brilliant nostalgia room. It was great to catch up with residents and staff. It was fantastic to celebrate further investment in our Golden Wonder site as the plant increases its production by 50% and takes on a further 60 staff. The sort of good news we can all celebrate. I called in at Coral on Ashby Broadway where there was a real buzz ahead of the Grand National to place my charity bet. As usual my horses were unplaced!
The recess gave me the opportunity to pop into a couple of local nurseries - I Learn Education next to St Peter and St Paul's and Peek a Boo on Messingham Road - to see the brilliant work they do and catch up with how they are responding to the challenging changes the Government is bringing in.
It was good to meet the local Enterprise Coordinator and learn more about how the Careers and Enterprise Company intends to make a difference to young people's lives. I met up with a group of Tesco's apprentices to hear about how doing the apprenticeship had grown their confidence and their expertise.
Finally it wouldn't be Easter without Easter Egg and Easter Bonnet competitions so it was great fun to be able to not only look round Crosby Primary School but also judge the Easter Egg competition. Such amazing creativity from all entrants they all deserved a prize!
The week began with the very sad news of Councillor Pauline Carlile's passing after a brave fight against illness. Pauline was someone who was steeped in Labour values of community...
I’ve met a lot of incredible people this week, each of whom have achieved amazing things. Once again I hosted the Keith Fletcher Awards for incredible Access students from across the country. Each of their stories is an amazing reminder of how education transforms lives. For the first time in the 7 years I’ve been doing it we had a winner from a Scunthorpe College: Layla Graham a former CAVA Access to HE Diploma (Science) student at John Leggott College. In my visits to John Leggott and North Lindsey I learnt more about the successes and future plans of both our amazing colleges.
Scunthorpe Rotary hosted their third Disability Games at the Pods. Another fantastic festival of achievement with smiling faces from contestants and volunteers alike.
In a catch up meeting with 2 Sisters I heard about the success of their amazing £50 million investment in their Scunthorpe factory, allowing them to increase their output to 2.4 million chickens a week. An astonishing figure!
I was delighted to join Ali Stunt pancreatic cancer survivor, founder and Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action to celebrate her 10 year survival milestone in an event at the Cutty Sark. It was good to see Scunthorpe’s amazing pancreatic cancer campaigner Maggie Watts at this event.
So all the people I’ve met this week have achieved milestones of one sort or another. This has made me begin to focus more closely on my self-inflicted challenge of running the London Marathon on St George’s Day. April 23rd is now racing towards me faster than I can race round the Scunthorpe Park Run! In preparation I visited the Virgin Marathon store this week to learn more about how best to prepare for the event. Over Saturday and Sunday I ran 12 and 16 miles respectively earning for my troubles a nasty blister and an aching ankle. Apparently now three weeks out you have to ‘taper’ your training – that means running less each day I think. The hairdresser who cut my hair this week casually mentioned that she is part way through running 12 marathons in 12 months. Not only amazing but awesome! So I really ought to be able to achieve what now seems a very modest ambition.
Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me to keep the pressure on! If you haven’t and would like to support Lindsey Lodge, Scunthorpe Foodbank and the pancreatic cancer charities you can go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicDakinMP
I’ve met a lot of incredible people this week, each of whom have achieved amazing things. Once again I hosted the Keith Fletcher Awards for incredible Access students from across...
The Westminster Attack cast a huge shadow over last week. My thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastation wrought by one evil man. The family of PC Keith Palmer who lost his life keeping us safe and defending our democracy. And the loved ones of those others killed or maimed in the attack. This has been an horrific week for all of us. A terrible reminder that terrible events can happen. Sadly terrorism is part of the modern world and we must do all we can to defeat its evil ideology. An ideology that is a far cry from any religion. Our great religions call for peace and tolerance and should be a bulwark against such awful acts.
When the attack occurred I was voting on the Pensions Bill. The first of 3 votes. The subsequent votes never happened as the sitting was suspended and we found ourselves in lock down for the next 5 hours. We were anxious about what was going on outside as information reached us sporadically. We checked that staff were safe and that people knew we were. I was touched by the number of people who got in touch to express their horror at what was going on and to show their concern and support. Thank you! It was very much appreciated.
The next day the Commons sitting began with a minute's silence. The Prime Minister spoke for the whole nation in her statement condemning the atrocity, making it clear that we would continue to go about our daily business, showing that terrorism cannot beat democracy.
Later that day there were debates on Equitable Life and Social Mobility. I was there for the end of the first one - a scandal that has hit a number of constituents. I spoke briefly in the second one, pointing out the fantastic work sixth form colleges like John Leggott do as engines of social mobility.
I had to leave before the end in order to drop into Kirton Vicarage on my way home and lead a discussion on the 4th mark of mission for lent - 'Seeking to transform the unjust structures of society'. It was an interesting, stimulating evening.
It was great to spend time saying thank you to one of my staff team John O'Connor who is retiring this week. John has worked for Scunthorpe's MP for 15 years giving tireless service to local people; every week making someone's life better by resolving a case. I have been very fortunate to have John as part of my team. He has been fabulous and will be missed. Thank you John!
Another group of people whose work makes a difference locally is the Crosby Community Centre, so I was pleased to drop in to see them and get updated on their work. The North Lincolnshire Mayor's Civic Dinner was an opportunity to recognise all the great work done locally by many organisations and the Council's role in providing community leadership.
Finally it was fantastic to be a guest of Scunthorpe Rugby Club for their penultimate game of the season. In a nail-biting finish the Greens held on to win 28:27! Hoorah!
The Westminster Attack cast a huge shadow over last week. My thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastation wrought by one...
It was a strange week in Parliament. The legislation to allow the triggering of Article 50 was passed with a large majority as everyone knew it would be. But the Prime Minister has still not started the process of leaving the EU by triggering Article 50. A bit strange given the sense of hurry created by the right wing press. Anyway parliament has shown good faith in carrying out the will of the British people expressed in the Referendum result. The harder work of making our way successfully outside the EU now begins with the negotiations to determine our future relationship.
On Tuesday the Government voted down Labour's amendments to the first Budget under Prime Minister May which passed with a large majority. On Wednesday it was the Chancellor who voted against his own Budget by announcing he was abandoning the major tax raising measure in that self same budget by withdrawing the proposals to raise National Insurance contributions on the self employed. He gave no indication of how this £2 billion hole in the budget will be filled. But I fear further cuts in services or raids on pensions or rises in VAT. Time will tell. But the fact that Tuesday's Budget didn't survive till the end of Wednesday is not a good omen!
In contrast Hornsby travel has prospered for over 100 years providing bus services to local people. I was pleased to praise them whilst serving on the Buses Bill in Committee. I also had a very busy Ask Me Anything session with a wide range of interesting questions to respond to.
I really enjoyed my morning at Frederick Gough School. I was heartened when I arrived to see them proudly displaying their Gold Award for Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance which struck a chord with the points I was making in my recent Ten Minute Rule Bill on the subject. I spoke to an attentive Year 8 assembly before being taken for a tour of the school where I saw loads of students and staff enjoying their learning. This was capped off by a challenging meeting with the School Council where they asked me a host of difficult, stimulating questions.
I was delighted to open Ongo's new estate agency venture in the town centre - Mi Living. Finally it was great to join the Scunthorpe Lions for their 53rd Charter Dinner held at Ashby Decoy Club. These are one of the many excellent local charity fundraising groups that do so much for our local community.
It was a strange week in Parliament. The legislation to allow the triggering of Article 50 was passed with a large majority as everyone knew it would be. But the...
The first Budget of the May Premiership began to fall apart even before the Chancellor sat down when it became clear that the Conservatives were brazenly breaking their manifesto promise not to raise National Insurance. For self-employed workers earning £27,000 a year this means a tax increase of over £30 a month. A full frontal attack on the living standards of people who are just about managing! And there was nothing in the Budget for steelworkers or steelmakers.
The opportunity to do something about the unfairness of huge Business Rates bills that go up if a steelmaker invests in capital improvement was once again missed by this Tory Government.
There was a huge demonstration from the Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI) including North Lincolnshire women. Again the Tories put their cloth ears on and ignored this massive injustice on Budget Day when it would have been so easy to do something to mitigate the negative impact of their pension changes on this group of women.
North Lincolnshire's Conservative Council was also hard of hearing this week when the heartfelt concerns of local people wanting to preserve their access to the green space adjacent to the former Brumby Resource Centre was brushed aside. There was an enormous petition against developing this land, enjoyed by local people as recreational space for over 50 years, but the Conservative Council rode roughshod over this. They seem determined to rob local families of this amenity.
On a brighter note I was delighted to present Ancora Medical Practice's Adrian Garner with his Pharmacist of the Year Award. Despite the Conservative Government's attack on Community Pharmacists, great work continues to go on locally. But I know from chatting to Paul Robinson, Chair of the Local Pharmacy Committee, as well as correspondence from local pharmacists, that the cuts to pharmacies are making life much more difficult to develop the services in the way that everybody would wish.
I had a useful meeting with Hull University about their plans for the future and their commitment to be involved in things that are going on in northern Lincolnshire. In National Apprenticeship Week it was good to meet the fantastic apprentices who are working for Booker in Scunthorpe and learn more about their work. It was good to hear how this national leader in wholesale retail is investing in their staff to good effect.
I was very impressed by the work that CJM Asset Management are doing selling a vast range of goods - from the contents of house clearances to Vietnamese steel mills - through their on line auctions. Amazing stuff! Finally it was good to catch up with the challenges and opportunities facing Total LOR when I visited their refinery.
The first Budget of the May Premiership began to fall apart even before the Chancellor sat down when it became clear that the Conservatives were brazenly breaking their manifesto promise...