Happy New Year.
During the Christmas period I’m always reminded of the excellent work that local charities do to support our community. The number and range of organisations are so many that it’s impossible to list them all but it’s worth remembering those – like the Forge – that provide support for people who are most vulnerable at this time of year. It was good to join volunteers making shoebox donations to the Lighthouse Project, run so well by the New Life Church. Our faith communities make a real difference through their positive actions. I also dropped in for coffee and carols at Bottesford Baptist Church and heard about the good work they are doing. I was equally pleased to attend the Lindsey Lodge service at St Bernadette’s where the hospice were able to thank all those volunteers and supporters without whose contribution they would not be able carry out the great work they do.
Sadly we’ve seen awful floods across the country and, at the same time as I’m frustrated that the Conservative government’s cancellation of the investment plans that were in place in 2010 hasn’t helped the situation, I’m heartened by the way in which communities have come together in adversity. It is one of our very real human strengths. It’s the same sort of community strength that’s been shown locally in recent months as our steelworks has been under threat. This was again evident at the Special Council Meeting held to respond to the petition signed by many thousands of local people in support of steelworkers and their families.
With the positive news about Greybull Capital’s interest in Tata’s Long Products business, including our integrated steelworks, I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. As with all these things the devil will be in the detail! At long last the Conservative Government delivered on its 3 year old promise to mitigate the higher energy costs for the steel industry caused by its unilateral Carbon Floor Tax. Better late than never!!!! But I remain perplexed that they seem so keen to give subsidies to French Nationalised companies and the Chinese Communists to invest in nuclear power but seem so reluctant to take the actions necessary to ensure UK steel can compete on a level playing field. My responsibility remains continuing to work with colleague MPs, the trade unions and other stakeholders to keep the pressure on the UK Government to deliver on the remaining asks – around business rates, procurement and Chinese dumping. Actions on these areas will build greater confidence in the future and show that the UK is committed to its steel industry which is so strategically important for us all.
It’s not for nothing that Scunthorpe United are known as the Iron. They’ve had a good Christmas going unbeaten over the festive period and playing some of their best football of the season. So hopes are high for the exciting trip to Stamford Bridge. Up the Iron!
Happy New Year. During the Christmas period I’m always reminded of the excellent work that local charities do to support our community. The number and range of organisations are...
Christmas is a time for celebration and valuing the people who matter in our lives. And there are a lot of things to celebrate locally. I enjoyed presenting the cups and prizes to the talented winners Scunthorpe Camera Club photography competition. The Clay Oven is one of a multitude of fantastic Asian restaurants we have locally so it was good to be able to present them for their ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Tiffin Cup.
North Lincolnshire Homes (Ongo) have capped off an excellent year being listed again in the Sunday Times top 100 companies. It was useful and interesting to be updated on the challenges they face and their plans for 2016.
I cut the ribbon to officially open Scunthorpe Self Storage Centre on Skippingdale – an exciting new venture that I’m sure will be successful.
Lindsey Lodge Hospice do so much amazing work. It was great to be able to join them for an evening of celebration at St Bernadette’s for their annual Carol Service. I presented my Christmas Card Competition prizes at Westcliff Primary School’s Merit Assembly and joined Santa on his visit to Enderby Road Infants which was – as ever –great fun!
If Santa is listening my wish is for our steel industry to have a positive, good year in 2016. The fantastic people who work at the steelworks and in their supply change deserve to have their efforts rewarded. This week saw the Conservative Government finally delivering the support for energy costs they promised three years ago. Better late than never!! As the Business Select Committee said government have been slow to wake up to their responsibilities in supporting the UK steel industry. Hopefully now they are awake we’ll see more action in 2016!!!
Christmas is a time for celebration and valuing the people who matter in our lives. And there are a lot of things to celebrate locally. I enjoyed presenting the cups...
It was good to see the new build nearing completion at the Grange Primary School and good to bump into the ukelele club at Bottesford Juniors.
In terms of Christmas celebration it was fantastic to go round the brilliant Festival of Christmas Trees at Brumby United Church organised by Scunthorpe Lions to raise money for Lindsey Lodge Hospice. Another person celebrating was Pauline Hall who has just completed 40 years' service for Ladbrokes. It was great to be able to pop into the Ashby store and thank her for her work giving great service to local people.
That was also my message to the amazing team of postal workers who deliver our mail in all weathers. Last week saw a record number of items delivered - 500,000 letters and 80,000 parcels! It's National Postal Worker's Day today and you can sign up to their People's Post Campaign at https://www.change.org/p/defending-the-people-s-post
The future of UK Steel, in particular our steelworks, remains a major focus of my work. It was good to join Community Union representatives from across the site to catch up with how things are going on the ground. Speaking to Tata management the serious interest of a number of potential buyers of the Long Products business is something to be welcomed but it will take some time for the detail to be worked through. This was clear at the Tata Task Force meeting where I was pleased to see the very strong working relationships between Tata, the Council, JobCentrePlus, North Lindsey College, the Humber LEP and other agencies appearing to make a real difference.
Other people making difference are the great people at Scunthorpe Central Community Centre, the enterprising team at Coe & Coe and the positive people at Sills and Betteridge - all of whom I caught up with last week.
It was good to see the new build nearing completion at the Grange Primary School and good to bump into the ukelele club at Bottesford Juniors. In terms of Christmas...
Last week was dominated by the vote on whether or not to extend the UK's involvement in airstrikes against Daesh into Syria.
I voted against but parliament decided in favour. It's now important everyone gets behind our brave forces involved directly in this action. Whatever our views we must hope - now it's happening - that it will reduce the risk from Daesh and hasten peace for the region.
I've been saddened by the aggression of some people, claiming to be against war, towards people they disagree with. Rather ironic!! It would be good if they practiced what they preached!!! It's inevitable that there are real tensions when passions run high but we should be proud of working through our differences in a democratic way.
It was great to see Labour's excellent candidate comfortably win the Oldham West and Royton by-election. Something of a vote of confidence in Labour at the end of a difficult week.
I spoke at a conference on the gathering crisis of teacher supply; an issue I was pleased to see Sir Michael Wilshaw highlight in his Chief Inspector's Annual Report and something we pushed the Education Secretary on at Education Questions.
I took part in a debate on unfairness of the impact of the Government's pension changes on women born in the 1950s. We won the argument but I'm not sure the Conservatives are listening!
Finally I've discussed my concerns about the recent inspection of Humberside Police with the Chief Constable and asked for action to be taken to reassure high street retailers that the police will act on the antisocial behaviour they've been experiencing recently.
Last week was dominated by the vote on whether or not to extend the UK's involvement in airstrikes against Daesh into Syria. I voted against but parliament decided in favour....
Whatever your views I think you'll agree that last week was dominated by two political events: the Autumn Statement and the momentum towards making a decision whether or not the UK should participate in airstrikes against Daesh/ISIL in Syria.
On the first the government did a huge u-turn with a welcome reverse to the cuts in tax credits and police funding they had been threatening. There will still be a lot of pain for people in what they are going to do with huge cuts in council services and hikes in council tax planned. And, despite the rhetoric, there was nothing new for the steel industry. All the Chancellor gave us was warm words. So we need to keep the pressure on. That's why I asked the Leader of the House for a statement from the Business Secretary on the outcome from the working groups he set up at the Steel Summit.
The PM made a strong case for the UK to join coalition forces in airstrikes against Daesh in Syria. But I remain unconvinced! There remain weaknesses in my view in terms of the resilience of the Vienna peace process and a clarity about who would provide the ground forces that the UK action would be supporting. We need better answers to these questions. This is one of the most difficult decisions MPs have to make and I hope people will respect that fact. All emails on this and other issues are welcome but some have been more threatening in tone than I think is helpful to the political process.
I've been out and about this week which is rather unusual, speaking at a conference in Cambridge about Access to Higher Education courses and speaking in Norwich to the Pancreatic Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland about the work the All Party Group has been doing on pancreatic cancer.
I visited Heathrow Airport - one of the biggest sources of jobs in the UK - to learn about their apprenticeship and training schemes. And I was a guest of the NUT for the Youth Proms at the Albert Hall - a reminder of the how talented people are!
Back in Scunthorpe I witnessed the Iron's woeful display against Peterborough and enjoyed seeing Spectre at our fantastic Vue Cinema, the plot of which eerily rehearsed some of the challenges facing our decision making around airstrikes!
Whatever your views I think you'll agree that last week was dominated by two political events: the Autumn Statement and the momentum towards making a decision whether or not the...