Sadly the devastating news about likely job losses at Scunthorpe Steelworks dominated last week. Ironically the Steel Summit I’d asked for that took place in Rotherham was pretty positive. We had all the great and the good of the steel industry there including Chief Executive of Tata Steel Europe, Karl Kohler and General Secretary of Community Union, Roy Rickus and well as UK Steel and representatives of contractors and supply chain.
The Business Secretary, Sajid Javed MP, was listening and I felt the penny was beginning to drop of what urgent actions need to take place. He promised to set up working groups to look at the key issues around energy costs, procurement, business rates and Chinese dumping to work briskly so that decisions can be taken before Christmas on actions to be taken.
Steel MPs continue to urge the government to announce actions as soon as possible and no later than the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Leaving the Summit, news broke about a likely Tata announcement on Tuesday of 1200 job losses with the majority of those in Scunthorpe. I spent much of the weekend meeting local people, listening to their concerns and putting their case across to a wide range of media outlets.
It was good to join steelworkers and their families gathering names on a petition to StandUpForSteel in the Town Centre.
It was good to see similar strong support at Scunthorpe United where the Iron responded well to record a good win over Shrewsbury.
Back in Parliament I finished off my stint on the Finance Bill which has now completed its committee stage. I met with sixth-form college leaders at the AoC to listen to their well-founded concerns about the impact of further government cuts on their students. The cuts in post-16 funding alongside the crisis in teacher recruitment are the two top issues that I am pushing in my new role as Shadow Schools Minister.
I also had to respond to the news that the government is creating a new grammar school in Kent through the wheeze of calling it an annex even though it is 10 miles away from parent school. All the evidence shows that children from poor backgrounds on Free School Meals do less well in selective areas than they do in non-selective areas. So, if we care about social mobility – as the PM claims to – this is a bad move.
it was good to see local campaigner Maggie Watts at the All Party Pancreatic Cancer Group meeting I chaired. It was a busy, useful event with a lot of strong action coming out one of which is to do all we can to argue for the ability of patients to continue to get abraxane on the NHS – something that is in jeopardy following decisions by NICE.
Another local person down in Westminster last week was Lincs FM’s Sean Dunderdale who I met up with to be updated on that great commercial radio’s work. And finally I managed to get across to Hull Truck Theatre to see local playwright, Richard Vergette’s play ‘Dancing through the Shadows’. It was a superb and timely reminder of the way in which strong families and communities can come through times of great challenge and adversity.
Sadly the devastating news about likely job losses at Scunthorpe Steelworks dominated last week. Ironically the Steel Summit I’d asked for that took place in Rotherham was pretty positive. We...
Saturday was World Mental Health Day so it was fitting that I spent a good part of the last week seeing some of the great work that is being done by mental health services locally.
I visited the Togetherness Choir held at Alvingham Road Community Hub – a fantastic way to support people with dementia and their families. You don’t need to be able to sing to enjoy it as I demonstrated!
Every Thursday 6-7pm run by volunteers and open to whoever turns up – I’d recommend as superb therapy for anyone.
The `Options Recovery College run out of Sandfield House is another initiative that can be accessed by anyone. They provide free courses on a range of things from getting a good night’s sleep to an introduction to mindfulness. All things that help maintain healthy minds!
I also had a really enjoyable visit to Great Oaks to meet staff and patients all of whom were enjoying an initiative called ‘perfect week’. Lucky them!!
It was good to receive my invitation to the Steel Summit to be held in Rotherham on Friday. Let’s hope it will make a positive difference.
I met with Community Union representatives this week who are understandably concerned about the future. When I joined the North Linconshire meeting of the Hull and Humber Chamber they were keen to emphasise their support for the steel industry which was excellent. I was heartened by the positive picture that they reported of how the local economy is moving.
I picked up similar positivity on visits to Apollo, Youth Engineering Scunthorpe and Pears Photography. One of the things that would benefit local businesses is an improvement to the A15 so it was good to co-host, with Martin Vickers MP, a meeting of all interested councils and LEPs to see what can be done to focus minds on a plan to make progress on this issue. We made a good start.
Still getting to grips with my Shadow Schools’ Minister role, it was helpful for me to get insights from the front line of education in my visits to Melior Academy and John Leggott College. The week ended with a very full monthly meeting of Scunthorpe Labour Party brimming with the energy and enthusiasm of new members!
Saturday was World Mental Health Day so it was fitting that I spent a good part of the last week seeing some of the great work that is being done...