Everyone's talking about steel. Wherever I go locally people grab me for a word about how things are going. When I dropped into the excellent Lindsey Lodge Hospice Christmas Fair at Redbourn Club that was the subject on everyone's lips. Likewise, when I joined White Ribbon campaigners talking to fans in the Iron Bar prior to Saturday's clash with Bradford City, it was the future of jobs at the works and in the supply chain people wanted to know about.
At Westminster I was pleased that the Labour Leader called a round table of key stakeholders; including Labour MPs, trade unions and employers' organisation, UK Steel to see what Labour can do to increase pressure on the government to act. It's what steel MPs have been focused on for many years!
I met with Tata to be briefed ahead of my meeting with the Prime Minister, who'd promised a meeting with North Lincolnshire MPs in response to my Question to him in October. As a cross-party group of MPs we always work together on issues of common local interest and nothing comes bigger than this. We met with the PM in his office behind the Commons Chamber. He was well briefed and made clear his commitment to support the steel industry, steelworkers and their families. But, as I politely pointed out to him, the time for words in coming to an end. We now need urgent action before it is too late. Action on energy costs, business rates, procurement and Chinese dumping.
To keep the pressure on, steelworkers gathered in Sheffield for a Rally on Saturday supported by steel MPs and steel trade unions. This show of solidarity will, hopefully, be rewarded with announcements this week in the Autumn Statement by the Chancellor to match his words with actions!
It was good to join Grimsby MP Melanie Onn for a meeting with Dong Energy, one of the key investors in the renewable sector on the South Humber Bank which is a reminder that new industries can create new jobs. Of course the renewables sector will need a lot of steel! And where better to get that steel from than Scunthorpe!
I'm having loads of meetings with organisations in the Education sector as I get to grips with my Shadow Schools brief. Last week I caught up with the Association of Colleges, the Sixth Form Colleges' Association, Catholic Education, Holocaust Education and Parents Want A Say!
I presented the national awards to outstanding Teaching Assistants organised by the HLTA and I took part in a discussion about the current challenges of teacher recruitment and retention organised by the SSAT.
We had an Opposition Day debate focused on the post-16 funding crisis to try to get the government to think again ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review announcement this week. And I spoke for Labour on the Private Member's Bill advocating that all secondary school children are trained in first aid and CPR. Sadly government backbenchers chose to talk this out through filibustering rather than allow it to go to the vote - which was disappointing as there was strong support from backbenchers across parties as well as enthusiasm from the charitable sector.
Everyone's talking about steel. Wherever I go locally people grab me for a word about how things are going. When I dropped into the excellent Lindsey Lodge Hospice Christmas Fair...
There is huge shock across the world at the outrage and murder on the streets of Paris. The horror of decent humanity at this incomprehensible attack on our freedoms is clear. At Scawby Civic Service we paused to remember those caught up in these events and show support for all those working together to keep us safe and secure in a world where fanatical radicalism poses dangers to us all.
Solidarity has been the watchword of this week with thousands turning out to support steelworkers and their families in the march from Church Square to the Civic Centre. It was humbling to see people coming out of their houses, shops and businesses to applaud the marchers. Cars, Buses and police vehicles papped their horns to show support. In the speeches to the crowd outside the Civic Centre the well rehearsed arguments about energy costs, business rates, procurement and Chinese dumping were made again and again. Hopefully the government is listening and will act before it is too late. I will lead a cross-party delegation of northern Lincolnshire MPs to meet the Prime Minister in the next couple of weeks to press our case for Scunthorpe Steel.
I was reminded of how much we can achieve when we work together when I met with the Humber Nature Partnership which draws industry and environment together to ensure our estuary is managed to best effect for both development and preservation. Another example of how working together can improve our environment was on show when I joined Melior Academy Eco-Prefects and Living Streets who are doing work on how to improve safe walking routes to school - exactly the sort of project that makes a huge difference to people's lives.
The Scunthorpe Community Supermarket on Exmoor Road is worth a visit. I popped in to see them donating food to the New Life Church's Open House project that gives support to homeless people locally. My hardest job of the week though was judging the Macmillan cake competition at Bridgewater Park Care Home.
Finally it's important to make sure that your friends and family are registered to vote before the end of November as those figures will be used as to decide the level of resources that come to us locally from central government. If people aren't sure whether they are registered they can go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or telephone North Lincs Council on 01724 296245.
There's a by-election in Oldham where Cllr Mick Grant and I went across to provide support on a very wet day indeed. I think we are both still drying out!
There is huge shock across the world at the outrage and murder on the streets of Paris. The horror of decent humanity at this incomprehensible attack on our freedoms is...
It was great to see the fantastic support for steelworkers and their families on display at Glanford Park as the Iron recorded a good win, knocking Southend United out of the Cup and moving into the next round.
As I laid my poppy wreath along with others from across our community it was time to pause and think of the sacrifice and service that those from our area – the Ironstone area – have made to keep the rest of us safe and secure. I reflected on how easy it was for me to exchange ideas with German MPs on my visit to Berlin this week and how this is a peace that we now take for granted but was hard won. The German MPs were very concerned about how to manage the refugee crisis in Europe and were very anxious about the outcome of the UK’s referendum on membership. They value the UK’s role in Europe and fear that a Brexit will result in greater problems for everyone.
All these things are connected, with the quality of leadership making a real difference to how such challenges are handled. So I was pleased to join delegates to the Global Leadership Summit held at Scunthorpe Baptist Church – always a great local event that attracts people from afar.
I spoke at a similar summit, held at the Royal Society of Arts, giving my perspective on Labour’s vision for education.
Finally I was pleased to join Pancreatic Cancer Action in a show of strength outside the Department of Health on the day that abraxane was de-listed for patients.
It was great to see the fantastic support for steelworkers and their families on display at Glanford Park as the Iron recorded a good win, knocking Southend United out of...
It's been another week marshalling arguments and support for the UK steel industry. And Scunthorpe Steel in particular.
It was good to see so many local steelworkers down in Westminster on the day we debated what government needs to do if it wants this key foundation industry to be there into the future. In my short speech I used the words sent to me in emails from local people affected to underline the need for urgent action on energy costs, business rates, Chinese dumping and procurement.
It was good to hear management and workers alike putting the same arguments to Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Business Secretary, Angela Eagle when they visited Scunthorpe Plate Mill on Thursday. They couldn't fail to but be impressed by the sight of steel being made. They were equally impressed by the skills, pride and commitment of the steelworkers and their families that they met. And I've also been impressed by the support of everyone locally. People have been keen to sign the petitions being gathered in the town centre, Ashby market and elsewhere. And it's been good to see so many shops displaying 'Save Our Steel' posters as well as a lot of support on social media.
I've also been busy in my Shadow Schools' role responding to a debate on holidays taken in term time and asking my first Education Question from the Front Bench.
It was good to chat to Anne Tyrrell, North Lindsey College Principal, at a gathering of FE Principals from across Greater Lincolnshire. There was general concern about the likely further cuts in funding that is feared as a result of the government's Comprehensive Spending Review. This is one of the key issues Labour has been pressing the government on, along with the crisis in teacher supply and the crisis in school place planning.
I supported pancreatic cancer charities by sponsoring a drop-in event at Wesminster. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month so this was very timely.
Back in Scunthorpe I had a busy surgery at Sainsburys followed by a drop in for people concerned about policing issues around Frodingham Road organised with the police and safer neighbourhoods. And somehow we managed to find time to judge my Christmas card competition - always one of the most difficult jobs of the year!
It's been another week marshalling arguments and support for the UK steel industry. And Scunthorpe Steel in particular. It was good to see so many local steelworkers down in Westminster...
The abiding memory of last week was sitting in the Sky TV studio as the day’s headlines went up: steel job losses followed by the Chinese President riding down the Mall in a golden coach! These images focused everyone’s attention on making it clear to government to summon the political to act before it’s too late.
It’s absurd that the UK is looking to Communist China, with its dodgy human rights record, to build our future infrastructure and at the same time failing to take effective action against Chinese steel dumping.
Battling for local people’s jobs and livelihoods has meant a week that began talking to Radio Humberside’s James Piekos in the early hours outside the steelworks Gate E, saw me on every media outlet including Russia Today! The week ended with me putting the case for steel on the Sunday Politics and in the Sunday Express.
In Parliament I managed to ask questions of the Prime Minister twice – getting sympathetic answers but not much action. He has, though, agreed to meet with myself and fellow North Lincolnshire MPs to discuss how government can ensure Scunthorpe Steel has a future.
I also pressed the Business Secretary to act before it is too late when we dragged him to the Commons Chamber to answer for his inaction. Back in Scunthorpe I’ve been talking to some of Tata’s suppliers like PD Logistics about the likely impact on them of what Tata has announced. For the impact of what’s going on will be felt beyond the core Tata workforce.
On Saturday I joined steelworkers and their families in the Town Centre gathering signatures for petitions to press the government for action. It was good to see a number of Labour councillors there showing their support for the families affected. And the response from local people and shopkeepers was fantastic! A big thank you to them.
The government seems to be saying that the best way to build the future is through further English devolution. So it was good to meet with the Greater Lincolnshire LEP and hear about the work they are doing in the area. I also dropped into the All Party Group for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire to make clear my preference for our area to be part of a devolution that recognises the opportunities of the Humber estuary for jobs and involves the East Riding and Hull. But all that’s being offered at the moment is some muddled passing down of random powers with no true accountability to match that enjoyed by Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.
Indeed the muddle continued at Westminster with the Conservatives forcing through their ill-conceived English Votes for English Laws legislation which sounds good but is a nonsense!
In my Shadow Schools brief I responded to a debate on fire safety in schools. I was also able to celebrate the campaigning work of Lorna Fillingham for increasing the number of changing places toilets in a debate focused on that issue.
Finally I was delighted to join a packed St George’s, Crosby for a wonderful Festival of Choirs.
The abiding memory of last week was sitting in the Sky TV studio as the day’s headlines went up: steel job losses followed by the Chinese President riding down the...