A lot of education related stuff going on this week. I got the Government to admit it has underspent the 16-18 budget by £276 million. As I pointed out to the Secretary of State this is cash that should go back to the sector while she looks carefully at how to increase the funding overall.
I have secured a debate on this very issue when we get back in September after recess.
There appear to be real difficulties with parents trying to sign up for the 30 hour free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. The website keeps crashing. I was able to raise my concerns about the impact on parents, nurseries and pre-schools if this isn't sorted in double quick time. A highlight of the week was catching up with the group from Melior who had triumphed in the Maths Skills challenge.
Their reward was a trip to parliament. They were an impressive bunch of young people full of ideas and questions.
The same is true of Frederick Gough students who I chatted to when I caught up with the fantastic work they have done this year on the last day of term. I was really impressed with the extremely positive attitude from all students and staff I met.
Finally on the Education theme I was re-installed as the Chair of the Education All Party Group.
The other area of focus this week was health. I am pleased that the hospital now has a new substantive Chief Executive coming into post. It's important that he works with staff, patients and partners to turn things round.
The move to centralise emergency urology on the Scunthorpe site and centralise ENT at Grimsby is probably a sign of how things are likely to be in future. What matters to me is that the community is fully involved in any future decisions and that only changes that will improve medical outcomes are supported.
It was good to meet up with UNISON and agree to work with them on a campaign to get more resources and support into our local health services. I was re-elected Chair of the All Party Group on pancreatic cancer.
I had a very useful meeting with the local MIND group who raised concerns about the increases in need for mental health services support. I also visited the Crosby One Centre to learn more about the excellent work they are doing in the community. It is great that they have opened a Food Bank dispensing point at their centre, working with Scunthorpe Baptist Church.
A lot of education related stuff going on this week. I got the Government to admit it has underspent the 16-18 budget by £276 million. As I pointed out to...
A lot of people got in touch at the end of the week to say they'd seen me doing the bowing bit to give the vote result at the end of the Queen's Speech debate. Some things didn't change - we lost all the votes as usual. But the margin of only 14 is a reminder that if the Conservatives hadn't raided their magic money tree for the billion pounds bung to the DUP they would struggle even more to win votes in the mother of parliaments. And only days after they voted against ending the 1% pay cap on public sector pay we've had a weekend of Tory Cabinet members making exactly the same argument that we the Labour Party made last week and they, the Conservatives, voted against! The need to reward our firefighters, our police, our nurses, our teachers and other public sector workers properly is becoming ever clearer. So perhaps next time we wont just win the argument but we'll win the vote as well. And if this is what a hung parliament looks like - making life better for people - then it has to be an improvement on where we were before the General Election.
Getting all party groups up and running before the summer recess comes has involved meetings with the secretariats for the All Party Group on Pancreatic Cancer and the All Party Group on Cancer. The important work they do in focusing arguments on how to improve our performance in the fight against cancer is crucial. My first contribution in the Commons since the election was to ask for a statement on the performance of NHS Improvement as I and other stakeholders locally become increasingly frustrated at how slow the are being in providing timely and effective support to Scunthorpe General Hospital.
I was pleased to join Scunthorpe Town Centre retailers, North Lincolnshire Council officers, local Labour Councillors and Humberside Police for a meeting to focus on how to tackle the growing problems of anti-social behaviour in and around the High Street. There was a strong desire to work together to make the improvements that are needed so that our hard working retailers can provide the fantastic shopping experience that local people value.
It was good to catch up with Scunthorpe United to be updated on their future plans. And I really enjoyed being with the Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choirs - such amazing talent from the children and staff.
A lot of people got in touch at the end of the week to say they'd seen me doing the bowing bit to give the vote result at the end...
Well what a week!
Mrs May had called a General Election when one was not needed because the polls showed her 20 points ahead and she believed she would crush all opposition, external and internal. She called a General Election in the party interest not the national interest. And she was found wanting in the campaign- arrogant and distant. Refusing to show up for debates and staying away from the general public. In contrast Jeremy Corbyn was available and accessible; willing to turn up, stand up and be counted. The weather turned to rain for the last week of campaigning. Canvass teams got soaked and anxiety rose about polling day itself being a wash out. But after some showers early doors the sun came out on what was to be a very good General Election day for Labour locally.
I knew things were going our way from the response I was getting on the doors. People were enthusiastic and pleased to see me. Cars stopped and windows wound down to shake hands and wish me luck. Teenagers stopped me for stickers and selfies. There was a weird carnival atmosphere. Volunteers turned up in droves to the committee rooms to help get the vote out. And the vote was turning out, going up from 57% to 65%. An amazing boost for democracy with younger voters energised by Labour’s message and older people who hadn’t voted before finding their way to the polling station.
After a long night the Scunthorpe County Constituency result was declared. I had gained over 50% of the vote and was being returned for the third time to represent the towns of Bottesford, Kirton—Lindsey, Scunthorpe and the surrounding villages at Westminster. An enormous privilege and responsibility.
It only leaves for me to thank everyone who voted for me, everyone who worked so hard to get me elected and to congratulate my fantastic Agent who is once again Cllr Steve Swift after being elected to serve the Brumby Ward in the council by-election that took place on the same day.
Well what a week! Mrs May had called a General Election when one was not needed because the polls showed her 20 points ahead and she believed she would crush...
The awful, shocking attack on Westminster Bridge was an attack on all of us and an attack on our democratic way of life. Everyone’s thoughts, will be with the victims, their families and friends. The emergency services and our health service showed great courage and professionalism in their response. We cannot allow these awful terrorists to win. We need the strongest possible response to ensure our country’s safety and the safety of our citizens.
And that such an attack took place during the holy month of Ramadan makes it even more evil. I joined the local Muslim faith community for the breaking of the day’s fast and heard from them their disgust at the actions of evil terrorists. They are steadfast in their determination to see the men of terror brought to justice.
The everyday acts of life are so important when we are threatened in this way. So it was good to mingle with local people enjoying the sunshine, stalls and presentations at the Messingham Show. And it was good to join British Steel stakeholders to celebrate the first year of successful trading under the new ownership of Greybull Capital. Another positive event was held at Skydive Hibaldstow who brought all their charity partners together to thank them for the work they do together raising thousands of pounds for a huge variety of good causes over the years.
Meanwhile the General Election Campaign continues its seemingly never- ending cause. As my Conservative opponent has avoided local hustings, meaning for the first time ever there hasn’t been any, I hosted my own Ask Me Anything session, answering questions on twitter and Facebook. It was a surprisingly busy evening. Proof positive that people want to engage with the candidates and get answers to their questions. It was good to have Labour’s Health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth join us to point out how Labour will tackle the growing crisis in the NHS.
The awful, shocking attack on Westminster Bridge was an attack on all of us and an attack on our democratic way of life. Everyone’s thoughts, will be with the victims,...
Last week everyone was shocked by the awful, horrific attack on young people enjoying themselves at a pop concert. The senseless killing is beyond comprehension. All our thoughts will be with all the families affected and the great city of Manchester. Rightly all General Election campaigning was suspended for one day with local campaigning restarting after that before a return to full national campaigning on Friday. It was good that all parties worked together on this to show a unity of purpose in the wake of the atrocity. We are now back to campaigning – an important message to the terrorists that we will not allow them to disrupt our democratic processes. We will not let them take our democratic freedoms away from us. The emergency services were outstanding in their response. It’s important their service is recognised as well as the everyday acts of kindness by the people of Manchester and elsewhere.
It was good to join members of all local faith communities for a short vigil and prayers in Scunthorpe on Friday. It was very moving to hear the words of solidarity and compassion. Our Labour Social event at Café Indie raised over £300 for the charity set up to support the families affected by the attack.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, joined us to remind us why it’s so important to get Labour MPs elected on June 8th. He echoed the words of Labour’s Deputy Leader, who visited earlier in the week, in pointing out Mrs May’s many U-turns, the latest in trying to distance herself for the Dementia Tax she announced days earlier in her own manifesto. She is the original Mrs Weak and Wobbly!!!
It was good to visit Scunthorpe’s BOC site and be updated on the challenges the business faces. Similarly attending the Multi Union Meeting at British Steel underlined the same issues. Action from Government on energy costs, procurement, skills and business taxes. This week will see the anniversary of the new owners Greybull Capital taking over the long products business form Tata. It will be a time to take stock of progress made and recognise and reward what the workforce has achieved.
As part of my policy of making myself open and accessible I visited North Lindsey College and answered questions from students and staff. I had agreed to do the hustings being organised by Scunthorpe Baptist Church but my Conservative challenger, who lives outside the constituency, could not make herself available to local people. She gave the same answer to John Leggott College and Estuary TV. So – for the first time ever – there will be no hustings locally.
Last week everyone was shocked by the awful, horrific attack on young people enjoying themselves at a pop concert. The senseless killing is beyond comprehension. All our thoughts will be...