My Diary Week Ending 18th March 2018
It was completely right for the British Government to make it crystal clear that we will not tolerate attacks on people living in the UK by foreign agents. Sadly it looks as though Russia is returning to former Soviet behaviour.
The Salisbury, Wiltshire attack has rather overshadowed everything else and meant that the very poor Spring Budget Statement has not got the level of scrutiny it might otherwise have done.
After years of unnecessary austerity our public services are still struggling under this Conservative Government. It is time to do more. Lack of clear Government policy has meant that our steel industry is less well supported than it should be. Two weeks on the Secretary of State for Trade finally came to Parliament to explain what the Government will do in the face of the US threat to impose huge steel tariffs. He reluctantly accepted that the best way of doing this is through the robust response of the EU. But he still refuses to commit to maintaining strong steel trade defence instruments when we are outside the EU. A reminder that there is still a big job to do to ensure steel is properly supported by this Conservative Government.
Another industry needing more consistent Government support is that producing bioethanol fuel like Vivergo. We had a good meeting of cross-party MPs to work out a way to argue the case for introducing E10 fuel into the UK - a move that would improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and support the industry.
The humanitarian crisis in Burma is of huge concern to local people, particularly due to the pressures it is putting on Bangladesh. I was pleased to speak up for the persecuted Rohingya minority to encourage the Government to continue its international efforts to support Bangladesh and put pressure on Burma.
I had a very busy Kirton in Lindsey surgery where the issues around the need for investment in public transport, school places and local health services to support the projected housing growth was on a number of residents' minds. I will carry on working with the Town Council to try to ensure that North Lincolnshire Council plans any future development in a sustainable way.
Finally it was good to trudge through the snow and get into the warmth of West Common Sports Hall to see another impressive performance from John Leggott College's Basketball Academy Team (see picture below). A reminder that we have lots to be proud of locally.
My Diary Week Ending 18th March 2018 It was completely right for the British Government to make it crystal clear that we will not tolerate attacks on people living in...
My Diary Week Ending 11th March 2018
I began the week asking the Prime Minister to Stand UP For Steel and stand up for British interests as the US President threatens a world trade war by slapping punitive tariffs on steel. Her reply did not give me confidence that the UK Government will act as strongly as the EU already has to show the Americans we are not a push over. I ended the week urging the Government to act on this issue.
I begin this new week looking for action on behalf of UK steelmakers and steelworkers. It is only 2 years since the height of the steel crisis and under the banner of British Steel Scunthorpe Works is now doing quite well. The last thing we need is a trade war. It never benefits anyone. The last time the US did this, back in 2002, it cost them 200,000 US jobs according to US commentators and they were humiliated when the EU won the case against them at the World Trade Organisation and they had to back down. It would be better to avoid all that grief and the US to see sense now. Anyway, rest assured, I will continue to pressure our Government to act in our interests.
Locally my campaign to do something about the terrible state of our roads and pavements has had a good response from local people and I think that the Conservative Council is finally waking up to the need to do something. They need to do a good job though not just sloppy patching that ends up costing money and not being effective.
They also need to wake up to how important our traditional Scunthorpe Market is and start working constructively with traders and customers to invest in its future. I saw how fantastic and effective our local firefighters are when I joined the watch for a morning. They are an extremely focused, highly trained professionals. We owe them a huge debt for the work they do on our behalf, keeping us safe and helping us out in the most difficult of circumstances.
It was great to be with the North Lindsey Team in national apprenticeship week for their amazing Apprenticeship Awards Celebration. Well done to staff, employers, parents and, of course, the apprentices themselves.
I was pleased to join so many local people queuing up to donate blood at The Pods. Blood stocks are low so every donation counts and the blood donors team have been working long hours on our behalf.
Another group of people who work really hard are the volunteers who run Scunthorpe parkrun. Having had to cancel the first one ever last week due to the extreme weather conditions they were back out again this Saturday.
My Diary Week Ending 11th March 2018 I began the week asking the Prime Minister to Stand UP For Steel and stand up for British interests as the US President...
Well a big thank you to everyone who kept essential services going last week. The arctic weather wreaked havoc with ordinary life. Many small acts of neighbourly kindness helped get us through the week. Thank you.
Many schools had to close. My visit to Brumby Outwood to see Careers work was postponed. But I was still able to get to see the fantastic Creative Therapy mindfulness session given to Year 6's at Messingham Primary. I witnessed another great example of developing greater resilience in children when I visited Kender Primary in London to see how they were implementing an active play policy during break times. It was very impressive.
Scunthorpe RUFC'c derby clash with Doncaster should have been impressive but it was postponed. Despite the great efforts of ground staff Friday night's snowfall meant the pitch was not ready. The charity pre-match dinner went ahead raising money for pancreatic cancer. It was good to support this as I'd had to pull out of speaking at Pancreatic Cancer UK's conference in order to get home ahead of the weather!
I was delighted to join our local rotary clubs at their first Swimathon held at the Pods raising thousands of pounds for local good causes. Well done everyone involved.
And it was good to hear abut the volunteering done by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association locally at their local peace conference.
Back in Westminster I raised my concerns about access to NHS dentists locally.
And local campaigners once again highlighted their worries about the impact on mental health services of the closure of Sandfield House - https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-stanfield-house
Well a big thank you to everyone who kept essential services going last week. The arctic weather wreaked havoc with ordinary life. Many small acts of neighbourly kindness helped get...
My Diary Week Ending 25th February 2018
I did a lot of big stuff last week! First up great local campaigner Lorna Fillingham who came to Westminster with Paralympian Anne Wafula (pictured below) to present their 50,000 name petition asking for Changing Places toilets to be put into new public buildings, particularly health buildings. This would only take a small change in the guidelines for new buildings but would be a big step on the way to transforming people's lives. Lorna pointed out that there are as many toilets in Wembley Stadium as there are Changing Places toilets across the whole country. More Changing Places toilets would transform the lives of people who need them and their carers. We went to Downing Street to present the petition. It's not a big ask. We should just get on with it.
As the 5 year National Cancer Strategy reaches its mid-way point it was appropriate - as Chair of the all-party pancreatic cancer group - that I contributed to a very good parliamentary debate on how we can up our game on workforce development, early diagnosis and taking advantage of the genomic revolution. As Cancer Research UK emphasise today it is also important that we tackle the causes of cancer - particularly linked to tobacco, obesity and alcohol.
Attending the EEF Manufacturers' Association conference was an opportunity to check base with the key partners around the UK Steel table. The better we work together the better outcomes we can achieve for this core foundation industry. It was also good to join the North Lincolnshire Health and Safety Awards to celebrate the great work done by many local employers in this crucial area.
A number of people got in touch with me concerned about NatWest's decision to close their Brigg branch so it was useful to meet with NatWest senior managers to represent concerns and hear how the change is being managed. They assured me that all customers are having individual consultations on how to be supported. I hope this is right. They pointed out that their customers can use Post Offices like the ones in Scawby and Kirton in Lindsey for paying in and taking out cash. They are also committed to providing a community banker in Brigg, North Lincolnshire and their mobile bank will visit. They have promised to meet with those Town and Parish councils that want to.
It was great to drop in to St Lawrence Academy to celebrate their achieving a National Online Safety Award working with a local company. As always there was a real energy about the school and the students and staff I met. Similar energy is on display at John Leggott College's Basketball Academy so I was pleased to name check them in a debate on the future funding of basketball. And I chaired a conference debating the really important current challenge around teacher recruitment and retention.
One of the key issues I have prioritised since the General Election is taking steps to tackle the problem of people presenting themselves as homeless on our streets. To this end I convened a very useful meeting of the key agencies working on the prevention end of this. What was clear is that there is a lot of good work going on by many people including The Forge Project, the Local Authority, Humberside Police, Ongo UK and other agencies but there are some people who find it difficult to respond to the current engagement. So we need to focus on this group and work together to find a way of getting them to respond. This will not be easy but it is something everyone was up for.
Finally it was fantastic to join other runners for the 5th anniversary Scunthorpe parkrun in Central Park. This could not happen but for the dedication of the organisers and volunteers as well as the enthusiasm and energy of participants. Well done everyone!
My Diary Week Ending 25th February 2018 I did a lot of big stuff last week! First up great local campaigner Lorna Fillingham who came to Westminster with Paralympian Anne...
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...