It's the beginning of August but my office seems to be much busier than usual at this time of the year. Not sure why but I've had very full surgeries with people seeing about a wide range of issues; including immigration, housing, state of the roads, access to support from Personal Independent Payments as well as other things. The pressure on other services that provide support to people is perhaps beginning to tell. That's why I was very concerned to hear that North Lincolnshire Council were ending their support for the Crosby Community Association which has done ever such a lot for local people. Thankfully - after intervention from myself and others - the Council has extended the funding for two months while it sorts out how it will provide such support services from then onwards. This also allows the CCA to bid for the contract - so a much fairer way forward than was being pursued.
From October we will see the roll out of Universal Credit in our area which will directly impact on many people's lives - hopefully positively but all change brings apprehension and concern that things will be worse. So it was good that my team and I were able to be fully briefed this week by JobCentrePlus in Scunthorpe about how the roll out is being managed. I was impressed by the amount of work that is being done with key partners; like the Council, Ongo and private landlords to prepare for the roll out in a way that gives people maximum support during a period of significant change.
I always enjoy getting along to the National Citizens' Programme run out of Scunthorpe United and getting inspired by the young people, staff and volunteers. This year was no exception. The enthusiasm and energy of the students was palpable. I saw groups in action at Glanford Park and North Lindsey College as well as a brilliant selling operation in Ashby Market.
I was very sad to hear of the death of the former MP for Hull North Kevin McNamara who was a towering figure int he Labour movement for many decades. He will be very much missed and our thoughts will be with his family and friends at this very difficult time. Kevin's death from pancreatic cancer diagnosed late after no earlier symptoms is a reminder of how important the work being done to find earlier diagnosis and faster pathways to treatment is. That is what the All Party Group's report to be published in the Autumn will focus on. We've had some good news over the last week in relation to pancreatic cancer. The first being the breakthrough in Birmingham of faster pathways to treatment that improve outcomes and are more cost effective. The second being the approval by NICE of life extending drug abraxane for pancreatic cancer patients.
It's the beginning of August but my office seems to be much busier than usual at this time of the year. Not sure why but I've had very full surgeries...
My Diary Week Ending 30th July 2017.
The start of major World War 1 commemorations began in Belgium yesterday at Passendale. The remembrance event reminded me of the great work of our local Armed forces personnel. I enjoyed attending the annual N Lincs Armed Forces Day, this year held at Bottesford. Here is a great photo with one of The Chelsea Pensioners.
Animal welfare has been high on the agenda over the past week or two with many constituents contacting me regarding a n...umber of different and varied campaigns.
These include the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home initiative to increase prison sentences to five years for the most serious acts of animal cruelty.
The Dogs Trust are leading on addressing the abuse of the current pet travel legislation and the number of undeclared dogs entering Great Britain every day.
While Compassion in World Farming are running a campaign entitled ‘Time to Wipe Factory Farming Off the UK Map’.
I am encouraging more people from Scunthorpe, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate, and are currently underrepresented on the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds. Find out more here Anthony Nolan
I continue to work tirelessly to promote the use of British Steel in large infrastructure programs. As Chair of the Steel APPG (All party Parliamentary Group) I speak up for UK steel. Today the Yorkshire Post contained an interesting piece on the use of UK steel in the HS2 plans and made reference to my recent contributions in parliament.
My Diary Week Ending 30th July 2017. The start of major World War 1 commemorations began in Belgium yesterday at Passendale. The remembrance event reminded me of the great work...
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...