My Diary Week Ending 8th October 2017.
Former Prime Minister John Major adds his voice today to the many who are raising serious concerns about the likely impact of Universal Credit as it is about to be rolled out in North Lincolnshire.
I and my staff team have had a number of very useful briefings form Jobcentre Plus staff who are keen to make the new system work. But the devil will be in the detail of implementation. One of the biggest areas of concern is the change that means that rent will be paid to the tenant to pass on to the landlord, rather than going to the landlord direct. With people in the pilot areas having to wait around 6 weeks for their first payment the pressure to spend when the money comes through has meant rent arrears rising. So I was pleased to spend time with the fabulous Ongo UK team who try to get people back on track when they get into arrears. They were hugely professional and firm but fair in their approach to tenants in difficulty.
The last thing they want is for tenants to lose their home and they were very concerned that Universal Credit has the potential to make this more likely. I also met with the Council to see how well prepared they are for the task ahead. I reminded them of their lamentable performance in using Discretionary Housing Payments to support local people who get into difficulty.
Believe it or not Conservative North Lincolnshire is the worst performing council in the country sending most of its Discretionary Housing Payment money back to the Government rather than spending it on helping local people, which seems ridiculous.
On the theme of housing I had a meeting with Lincoln Court residents concerned about the likely impact of the scooter policy that Ongo are now enforcing. I have had representations from a number of people across area on this issue. Hopefully Ongo will find a way to address their concerns around safety without jeopardising residents' independence.
I've written to Thames Ambulance Service about complaints I've received about their service. When they took over the patient transport service a year ago they were full of good intentions and high ambition but that doesn't seem to being matched by what is now going on.
Another service that isn't quite delivering how local people want it to is the police. Since massive Conservative Government cuts of over 20% they do seem to have been struggling form one reorganisation to another and the number of concerns I've received from local businesses about the impact of anti-social behaviour on them has risen. So I was pleased to meet with the new Chief Inspector for our area who was able to assure me that there will be an increase in resources locally and that should lead to a better service.
It was great to pop into St Lawrence Academy, Scunthorpe and see how well the new school year has started. I also enjoyed meeting potential apprentices and a range of employers at North Lindsey Colleges apprenticeship event.
Congratulations to North Lindsey College on progressing their merger with Doncaster College and University Centre which they are confident will make them even stronger and more able to respond to the needs of our area.
Another successful business I spent time with last week was our local independent Wortley House Hotel who have such an excellent reputation and are totally committed to our area.
Finally the week wouldn't have been complete without another visit to Scunthorpe Market this time to look round the non food stores. There is such a buzz from customers and traders and a determination to make Conservative North Lincolnshire think again before it makes 250 people lose their livelihoods by moving the market. If you haven't already signed the petition to Save Scunthorpe Market please do so at: https://www.change.org/p/north-lincolnshire-council-save-sc…
My Diary Week Ending 8th October 2017. Former Prime Minister John Major adds his voice today to the many who are raising serious concerns about the likely impact of Universal...
My Diary Week Ending 1st October 2017
It was the week of Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee mornings.
Firstly amid the very positive atmosphere at The Labour Party Conference I caught up with Macmillan amongst talk of how upbeat Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s message is on health, the economy and the future of Britain. So that was good fun.
Back in Scunthorpe I joined the fabulous Kimberley Performing Arts Centre Group for their busy coffee morning before catching up with my team and the gang at Park Square side by side with my surgery and their Macmillan Coffee Morning! Finally as I pottered round a busy Scunthorpe Market supporting customers and traders in their fight to Save Scunthorpe Market I saw another Macmillan Coffee Morning. So much good work by so many people. There were even people running in Macmillan shirts at this week’s Scunthorpe Park Run. And these were just the ones I saw. There are many, many I missed such as that at Howsham I spotted on twitter too late to get there and join in. Thank you to everyone involved in supporting Macmillan across the area. Your work makes a real difference in the fight against cancer locally and nationally.
I had an excellent walk round the Foundry shopping area on a sunny afternoon with the town centre full of shoppers and busy shops. I also caught up with the busy butchers on Frodingham Road. A reminder of the great shopping choices we have locally. It was also good to be updated on how things are going at the steelworks when I called in there. And it was fantastic to join the students graduating from their 4 week NCS - National Citizen Service at our fantastic The Baths Hall. A reminder of the fantastic talent there is amongst our young people. So much positive hope for the future.
My son’s band The Crookes did an emotional farewell concert in a packed Sheffield's The Leadmill after 10 years of giving great enjoyment to loads of people. And it was good to see another home grown talent Sumudu playing with Snake Davis at the Ropery Hall, Barton upon Humber to complete the week.
My Diary Week Ending 1st October 2017 It was the week of Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee mornings. Firstly amid the very positive atmosphere at The Labour Party Conference I caught...
Conservative North Lincolnshire Council is upsetting a lot of people at the moment. I know this because of the uprush in people complaining to me being ridden roughshod over, without any proper consultation The Tories are doing things to people and communities instead of with them.
We have already had the attack on the mental health community demonstrated by the way they are closing Sandfield House with no proper consultation with service users or partners. You can sign the petition at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-stanfield-house
Then this week they attacked unpaid volunteer Town councillors with a high handed decision to cut their numbers against the will of local communities. This will result in the daft situation of the 9,000 residents of Bottesford having a Town Council of just 12 unpaid councillors while the 3,000 residents of Messingham have a parish council of 15 councillors. Kirton in Lindsey is reduced to 9 councillors whilst much smaller Scawby continues to have 13 councillors. This is all because BIG BROTHER TORY NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE knows what is best for local people. The most frustrating thing about this attack on Town Councils is that no reason has been given for it! It's just a gratuitous attack on the little people by BIG BROTHER as far as I can see. If you would like stop this please sign the petition at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/…/support-your-volunteer-counc…
The Conservative Council is also threatening to close Scunthorpe Market Save Scunthorpe Market With no proper consultation with market traders who provide 250 local jobs directly through their activity and far more indirectly. They picked up that something was going on through the Scunthorpe Telegraph and Facebook, hardly the best way to find out their livelihoods were under attack. Anyway, after walking round a very busy Scunthorpe Market talking to traders and customers about how important it is to them, I wasn't surprised to learn that 9,000 people signed their petition to Save Scunthorpe Market in the first 2 days. If you want to add your name go to: https://www.change.org/p/north-lincolnshire-council-save-sc…
I joined Kirton in Lindsey super civic service. The Scunthorpe Town Team also does some useful work championing Scunthorpe so I was pleased to catch up with them this week and learn more about their current priorities.
Other matters Scunthorpe for me this week were dropping in to the ever busy Central Community Centre to marvel at the great work the team there do. I visited the Humber UTC, one of the newer buildings in the Town Centre, to be updated on how the new term has begun. And I joined a well-attended meeting of the Bangladesh Welfare Association to hear their concerns about the treatment of the Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar Government and to receive a massive petition to present in parliament on their behalf. I was pleased that the UK Government responded to a joint letter from 175 MPs including myself calling on them to stop UK troops being involved in the training of the Myanmar Army. This is a good first step but I will be looking for the Government to follow this up with further pressure.
I was delighted to visit one of the oldest foundries in the UK and certainly one of the best - former Firth Brown now Bonds Heavy Castings on Dawes Lane celebrates its centenary this year. It is a truly impressive business making hugely impressive things. We should all be very proud to have it in our town. Another impressive operation is Cat Zero a charity focused on transforming the lives of young people who have seriously lost their way. This innovative project achieves amazing results. At its heart is 8 days on a yacht; so the opportunity to spend a few hours on the same yacht sailing from Grimsby gave a real insight into the way the project works. Finally I continued my quest for a better understanding of how to turn round our health service with a visit to the largest GP practice in the constituency - Ancora
Conservative North Lincolnshire Council is upsetting a lot of people at the moment. I know this because of the uprush in people complaining to me being ridden roughshod over, without...
My major focus this week has been on how we can support Scunthorpe Hospital staff to turn our hospital around. All four Northern Lincolnshire MPs met with Health Minister Philip Dunne to press him to do all he can to give Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospital Trust the help it needs. I spoke to the new Chief Executive, Peter Reading who showed an impressive grasp of the challenge he has taken on. And I met with Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, the body charged to do all it can to provide the necessary support to square things up. Everyone is making the right noises. Time will tell if they can turn their good intentions into actions that impact positively on outcomes for patients and staff. Anything else is not acceptable! As Jim MacKey said it’s important MPs keep asking the right questions and are impatient for the necessary change in performance to happen. We owe that to our constituents, the hospital’s patients.
I continued arguing for fairer 16-19 funding at Education Questions and was rewarded with a poor answer from the Skills Minister, who is beginning to look out of her depth. We had a good meeting of the All Party Group for Sixth Form Colleges - another opportunity to strengthen the cross-party campaign. Locally it was good to visit Huntcliff Academy and thank Sue Bond for her brilliant service as head teacher since 2002 as she approaches her retirement. It was good to meet so many enthusiastic students and staff.
There was great enthusiasm about all things sugar at Slate Farm. I joined representatives of British Sugar (who make silver spoon sugar) and NFU Sugar to learn more about how important sugar beet is to local farmers like Robert Borrill. It was fascinating to hear about the opportunities and challenges facing sugar growers and manufacturers. There are 9,500 jobs directly linked to sugar production in the UK; most in the east of England, including our area. And recent surveys show that most people don’t realise that 60% of our sugar comes from UK grown sugar beet.
Finally it was good to catch up with Ongo and learn about how they are planning for the introduction of Universal Credit. They share my concern that there is a real risk that it will plunge more people into debt. Indeed research published over the weekend shows that is exactly what has happened so far. With the bigger roll out happening next month it is crucial that everyone works together to minimise the risk to people who move on to it. So I was furious when in answer to my written parliamentary question the Government confirmed that Conservative North Lincolnshire Council is the lowest spender of its Discretionary Housing Payments in the country. This is exactly what could be used to help tenants who get themselves into temporary trouble. I was pleased that when I raised it with senior council officers they appeared to take on board the need to have another look at what is going on. Let’s hope that results in using the money for what it’s intended – helping North Lincolnshire tenants.
My major focus this week has been on how we can support Scunthorpe Hospital staff to turn our hospital around. All four Northern Lincolnshire MPs met with Health Minister Philip...
Parliament is back in full swing, suddenly everything is flying at us again: constituents concerns, lobbyists pushing issues, me getting local issues and concerns back on the agenda and then - of course - the process of leaving the European Union. So it's been pretty full on!
It was good to meet with John Leggott's Principal and Grimsby's Franklin College Principal to hear first-hand how cuts in funding of 16-19 year olds are affecting college and school sixth forms. I led a very well attended debate on the issue, where MPs from all parties were urging the Government to respond positively to the joint campaign from Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Association of Colleges (AoC) and Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) to SupportOurSixthformers and deliver an immediate £200 per student uplift in funding whilst carrying out a fundamental review of sixth form funding. I also raised in Parliament my very real concern about how the changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme will affect local pensioners. I was promised a response from Government to my concerns. I am also writing to TATA and the BSPS Trustees to raise a number of questions from constituents who've contacted me.
It was good to join local nurses who came down to Westminster to protest at the Conservative Government's policies on nurses pay. I am very happy to echo their call to ScraptheCap on nurses pay. it was also good to join colleagues celebrating the birth of the National Education Union formed from a merger of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).
Worryingly Conservative North Lincolnshire Council is riding roughshod over local people's views across the patch. The decision to serve notice on Sandfield House has upset the mental health service locally and caused dismay amongst many service users. I was very pleased to join protesters on Saturday Morning and pleased to see the very positive response they were getting from local people. It would be good to think the Council would listen properly to concerns. Instead they look like they are taking steps to shut people up by significantly by reducing the number of unpaid, voluntary Town councillors for Bottesford and Kirton-in-Lindsey. They have given no reason for this attack on local representation. I can only guess that it is because these Town Councils do a good job on behalf of local people in campaigning against changes like the cuts in bus services carried out by Tory North Lincolnshire. Other people tell me the Conservative Council are trampling over them without listening to their concerns as they threaten to build on green open space or tell the market traders that they need to move out from their current location. Doing things to people rather than with them seems to be the new Conservative way!
It was good to visit Carisbrooke Manor and learn more about the excellent work of the Kapil Group of care homes locally. It is always good to learn from people at the sharp end of delivery what is working well and what the current challenges are. My visit to Oswald Road Medical Centre was equally illuminating. As always I was incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the staff I met. Finally it was wonderful to join North Lincolnshire Bangladesh Welfare Association for their wonderful, colourful Eid Mubarak celebrations at Scunthorpe Central Community Centre.
Parliament is back in full swing, suddenly everything is flying at us again: constituents concerns, lobbyists pushing issues, me getting local issues and concerns back on the agenda and then... Read more