A week of recess so a bit of a chance for some relaxation amidst the storm of other things to do! I finished Raymond Candler's 'High Window' but am still a bit confused over who dunnit!
It was fantastic to visit the Islamic Centre Scunthorpe on Parkinson Avenue as part of national Open Mosque Day. This is, of course, the very first mosque visited by Her Majesty the Queen back in 2002 so has a special place in local as well as national pride. It was a really positive event with many people from many different faith communities present. Well organised with good information and talks about how muslims are contributing to British life. There was something for everyone to learn.I hadn't realised that out of our 16 muslim MPs 8 are women! With information about culture, food and henna painting it was a colourful, vibrant event.
There was a certain vibrancy on display at Glanford Park as Scunthorpe United FC ran out level in a 2.2 draw with Northampton. They are still holding fifth place in League One but I can't help hoping that they don't end up looking back on afternoons like Saturday regretting the points dropped.
Several busy surgeries appointments covered the usual range of challenging issues; including Personal Independent Payment assessments, police matters, Health matters and concern about air quality.
Loads of people have got back to me with their concerns about the quality of our roads and pavements. This is a problem all over the area with places like Bottesford and Kirton particularly feeling neglected by North Lincolnshire Council. I am busy pulling all the information together so that I can make the strongest possible argument for action to improve our roads and pavements. And it needs to be more than just filling in holes with material that only seems to last 2 minutes!
A week of recess so a bit of a chance for some relaxation amidst the storm of other things to do! I finished Raymond Candler's 'High Window' but am still...
My Diary Week Ending 11th February 2018.
It was good to join steelworkers and steel employers for a busy national steel conference last week. Meeting in Redcar where Sahaviriya Steel Industries Plc (SSI) closed just over two years ago it was a reminder of the very difficult times the industry has come through.
Steel communities like ours rose in solidarity to show their support for our key foundation industry at the height of the crisis. The latest Steel Minister spoke well ...and heard our consistent case to level the playing field by taking action on energy costs, procurement, support for capital investment and research and development, and action to prevent unfair dumping.
The conference was an opportunity to remind everyone of the need for effective action to ensure a sustainable future for UK steel.
Back home it was good to see the work that JobCentrePlus is doing giving information and advice to schools when I joined them on a visit to Demeter House School in Scawby. The students had loads of good questions for me.
It was a bit of a rehearsal for when I popped into Messingham Primary School to be energetically quizzed by the children about what I do. I had more questions to answer at the public meeting for Kirton residents, organised by the Kirton in LindseyTown Council. Kirton is not getting its fair share of investment or public transport support. The bus services to Scunthorpe and Gainsborough, Lincolnshire are both inadequate and too expensive.
For the significant housing development planned to be successful there needs to be a proper infrastructure plan for Kirton. The sort of plan I saw unfolding when I visited East London to see the work going on to create a strong creative Dance cluster in the area.
I also visited the Humberside Police control centre in Hessle to see how 999 and 101 calls from across our area are handled. It was humbling to see the intensity of work being done and the sheer professionalism of our police in dealing with the huge volume of calls they get. Every day armed police are deployed around Humberside to locations based on intelligence coming in on such calls.
My Diary Week Ending 11th February 2018. It was good to join steelworkers and steel employers for a busy national steel conference last week. Meeting in Redcar where Sahaviriya Steel...
When you are sitting on a Bill Committee it gobbles up time as you go through the proposed legislation line by line. So this is what I was doing most of last week as the excitingly titled Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill completed its committee stage. It's the Bill that will decide - amongst other things - what protection there will be for UK Steel British Steelwhen we come out of the EU. At the moment there are over 40 trade defence instruments in place to protect the European market from the dumping of Chinese and other steel being sold at less than it cost to produce. It quickly became clear that the Conservative Government isn't guaranteeing these protections stay in place when we leave the EU, which is troubling to say the least. What people don't appear to understand is that steel is a commodity that is traded freely without tariffs which makes it crucially important that action is taken where necessary to ensure trade is not only free but fair. I asked the Secretary of State for Leaving the EU how he was going to ensure UK Steel prospered after we had come out. Worryingly he had no answer other than a bit of bluster. It is surely time for this hopeless Conservative Government to up its game on behalf of British manufacturing and make decisions in the country's interests not the narrow concerns of the Conservative Party.
At Education Questions I continued to ask for fair funding of 16-19 year olds like those attending North Lindsey College and John Leggott College colleges. It's time for action to level this playing field!
The other big question that Parliament considered last week was to do with the future of the Houses of Parliament themselves. There were various options before us on how to proceed with the grandly named 'Restoration and Renewal" of the parliamentary estate. All options seem to cost an arm and several legs!!! So I went on a tour of the basement to see for myself what the problem was that needed fixing at such a cost to the public purse. After the basement tour I was convinced that to preserve our heritage and to keep people safe into the distant future the best option was the one where we all move out. In the end this option won by just 16 votes in a free vote. So hopefully now a decision has been made it can be got on without any more expensive dilly dallying.
Finally I was delighted to join councillors for their civic service held at Bottesford Baptist Church. Whatever Big Brother Conservative North Lincolnshire Council might say our Town Councils do a good job and should be seen as excellent partners in working for their communities not smaller bodies to boss about.
When you are sitting on a Bill Committee it gobbles up time as you go through the proposed legislation line by line. So this is what I was doing most...
My Diary Week Ending 28th January 2018.
International trade is a 2 way street. That was very clear this week when British Steel showed that when there's a level playing field they can win contracts, not only in the UK and Europe, but across the world as they announced a contract to supply steel to a massive Chinese port development. But, as I took part in the deliberations of the excitingly titled Taxation (Cross-Border) Bill, it is equally clear that as we leave the EU we ...must ensure that the protections from unfair trade remain in place - particularly to prevent the dumping of Chinese steel.
Steel is a commodity traded in a free market so when countries - like China - are trying to sell it for less than it costs to produce proper trade defence instruments need to be in place. I will continue to strongly argue that the UK Government shouldn't weaken these protections as we leave the EU - which appears to be what they want to do.
It was good to catch up with NFU Sugar who produce, amongst other things, the popular silver brand with sugar beet grown in our area.
Concern about ensuring better access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in to our universities was explored at a meeting with universities and with the outgoing Director of Fair Access to Higher Education.
Better research in to diseases like dementia and cancer is driven by our universities, often in alliance with key charities. So it was good to meet with the Alzeimers Society and learn about the work they are doing locally to support better understanding and treatment of dementia.
I also enjoyed visiting the brilliant Cancer Research UK shop on Scunthorpe High Street to meet the staff and volunteers whose work brings in the money to pay for the research. It was also good to learn about the work that CRUK are doing with local GPs, community pharmacies and others.
I visited Fibrecycle Uk Limited who are fast becoming a market leader for cat litter product which they produce from 100% recycled material. Another local success story!!!! It was good to meet up with the local WASPI - Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign group (picture above with Rosie Jordan) to be updated on how their campaign is going and what more I can do to support them in getting pension justice for 1950s born women. And it was good to touch base with local police chiefs to hear how the force is tackling the spate of burglaries, anti-social behaviour and more serious crimes.
My Diary Week Ending 28th January 2018. International trade is a 2 way street. That was very clear this week when British Steel showed that when there's a level playing...
I used my Question to the Prime Minister to ask when she is going to get her act together and improve the performance of the NHS. With vacancy rates locally around 30% her response showed how out of touch she is with what is going on in the real world. She made no attempt to show sympathy for my constituents waiting 52 weeks for pain relief treatment compared to the 18 weeks they should expect. It just isn't good enough. Despite the hard work of staff and the resilience of patients our health services are struggling and there appears to be no sign of this Conservative Government doing anything to bring about the necessary improvements.
Northern Lincolnshire's MPs spoke with one voice in the debate on the lamentable performance of the patient transport service provided by Thames. This was one of the many issues I raised with Emma Latimer, the new Chief Officer of North Lincolnshire CCG when I met with her for the first time. As Chair of the All Party Group on Pancreatic Cancer Action i was pleased to hear the news that there could be a blood test to enable early cancer diagnosis. This was one of the things discussed as we set out our plan for the group's work this year. I also showed my support for action on blood cancers by catching up with the work of Bloodwise.
I am serving on the Taxation (Cross Border) Bill over the next few weeks. This is important for the steel industry so I was pleased to be briefed by UK Steel British Steel about their concerns. Steel is a commodity that trades with no tariffs so needs the Government to act to prevent unfair dumping of Chinese and other steel. Unfortunately, as we move out of the EU, the Conservative Government isn't just transferring across the EU approach but trying to make changes that will make it harder to protect British Steel from unfair competition. Sounds bonkers but there you are!! Anyway being on the Bill Committee will give me the opportunity to argue the case for fair treatment for our steel industry, so important to our local economy.
I will also raise concerns with the Transport Secretary about the confusion around the Government''s policy in relation to renewable transport fuel, affecting a local business, Vivergo Fuels. Another important local business is Phillips 66 so I was pleased to meet with them and be briefed about their current and future plans.
I continue to do all I can to stick up for sixth form colleges like our fantastic John Leggott College that celebrates 50 years of serving our young people and our community this year. So it was good to speak at a gathering of sixth form college Principals about how they can better get their message over to Government.
I also raised my concerns in parliament about the impact of the changes to ESA interest payment support on people who are already struggling.
it was a very odd week beginning with a visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Labour Northern Ireland team. It is a year since the collapse of the Assembly at Stormont so we met with all the party leaders to try to understand what needs to happen to get the Assembly up and running again. With challenges to the education and health services this is essential. Let's hope the new Secretary of State can make a difference. We take peace for granted but it is very precious and a major achievement of Prime Ministers Major and Blair.
I used my Question to the Prime Minister to ask when she is going to get her act together and improve the performance of the NHS. With vacancy rates locally...