My Diary Week Ending 26th November 2017
The Chancellor began with a quick confession at the start of his hour plus Budget Speech. He admitted that productivity is down, growth is down and living standards are down - all under his Conservative Government. He then waffled a lot, failed to say he was doing anything to tackle the crisis in social care and spectacularly failed to deliver the Brexiteers promise of £350 million a week for the NHS.
I'd met with the Sixth Form Colleges Association earlier in the week - whose members, like John Leggott College International, are reeling from the collapse in funding for 16-19 year old education. The Chancellor did nothing to address the shortfall of £1200 in funding every 16-19 year old compared to funding every 11-16 year old. Such a huge gap is unsustainable.
I asked the Prime Minister to promise to ensure that the steel industry is not damaged by the changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme - something threatened by the way the UK is bungling its exit negotiations with the EU. I got no reassurance in her vacuous reply so I have followed up with a letter explaining the issue in more detail. If the Government is serious about Industrial Strategy these are the things they need to deal easily with! I met with the Pensions Minister about the changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme - in particular the need for clarity around the position of high-low pensioners. I have asked the Trustees to put back the date that people need to choose until the Government's rapid technical consultation on proposed changes has been decided on, which should be very soon. It is crucial that people have all the information they need to be able to make the decision in their best interests. At the All Party Steel Group we were briefed on progress towards a steel sector deal - but again the Government appears to be well off the pace!
There were some great visitors from our area to Parliament this week. It was good to catch up with Lincs FM's Sean Dunderdale at a lobby for commercial radio. As well as being a brilliant ambassador for commercial radio Sean has worked for ever for our amazing Scunthorpe Hospital Radio.
Hull University's new Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Lea, met up with local MPs and was really positive about the sort of leadership role the University hopes to provide in the future across the sub-region. Finally it was great to join Le-An and Keri (pictured right) standing up for Palestinian human rights on a lobby for Palestine .
Back in Scunthorpe I was really impressed with the young people and volunteers I met on my visit to 119 Scunthorpe Sqn ATC (pictured left). What a fantastic bunch of people!
Likewise the team at Barclays Bank Scunthorpe were really impressive and took me through all the work they are doing to support local people and businesses on getting the banking and financial services they need.
It was good to see Scunthorpe Market busy as it celebrates 45 years of its rich and varied Food Hall. North Lincolnshire Council have confirmed they will be considering the 20,000 name petition at their Council Meeting on 14th December. Let's hope they are listening to local people for once!
Finally it was good to see local Pancreatic Cancer Action campaigners (pictured right) out and about in Brigg rattling their cans and raising awareness. Something Cadney and Howsham's Debbie Clark was also doing for the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance (pictured left). So many fabulous people locally!
My Diary Week Ending 26th November 2017 The Chancellor began with a quick confession at the start of his hour plus Budget Speech. He admitted that productivity is down, growth...
My Diary Week Ending 19th November 2017. Well the excitingly named EU Withdrawal Bill finally got to the floor of the House of Commons for line by line debate of...
My Diary Week Ending 12th November 2017.
It was great to walk round Scunthorpe Market as it comes up to the 45th anniversary of its fantastic Food Hall. I was catching up with those businesses shortlisted for the Best Market Stall category in my Small Business Saturday awards. There are just so many brilliant local businesses that the shortlisting was really challenging. Tomorrow the shortlist will go public. I was busy visiting businesses to get photos to use on my website a...nd a description of their activities they are happy with. I met some really great people. All very exciting!
Excitement was the name of the game at the Humberside Engineering Training Association HETA apprenticeships awards where I presented awards to so many fantastic local engineering apprentices. I also caught up with more great young people at North Lindsey College (pictured left) where they talked to me about how the college is missing out on being funded properly compared to schools. I was able to tell them that I led the debate in parliament on this very issue earlier in the Autumn.
We all need to keep the pressure up on the Chancellor so that he takes action to fund 16-19 year old education properly before it's too late. The Budget next week represents a great opportunity for him to do just that! Buses are important for young people getting about locally so I was delighted to drop in to Stagecoach and learn about the investment they are making in the local bus fleet with over £1 million spent on new fast cats and double deckers (pictured left).
The underfunding of transport in our area was something I spoke about in the debate on Transport in the North emphasising the need to improve the railway line that serves our area and to improve the north-south road links, including looking at dualling the A15.
As the Conservative North Lincolnshire Council continues to sell off bits of our area I presented a petition to save Kingsway Golf Course in Parliament. I wrote an Open Letter to the leaders of both the Conservative and Labour Groups on the Council asking them to commit to looking after our green spaces and protecting our heritage, like the grade 2 listed Civic Centre. I got a very positive response from the Labour Leader of the Opposition promising to do everything possible to preserve our green spaces and our heritage. Sadly the Conservative Council Leader whilst recognising that local people 'value green spaces' gave no assurances that the Council under his leadership won't continue to sell off beautiful parts of our area for building. He also gave no assurance that our heritage will be defended and protected by the Council. All very disappointing.
Remembrance Sunday always provides a time to reflect on the sacrifice of men and women from our Ironstone Area. It is always an immense privilege to lay a wreath on behalf of local people in respect and remembrance.
My Diary Week Ending 12th November 2017. It was great to walk round Scunthorpe Market as it comes up to the 45th anniversary of its fantastic Food Hall. I was...
My Diary Week Ending 5th November 2017
Whilst Westminster whirls around in scandal and crisis I've been getting on with the job of doing my best for local people. On the bigger questions that are being asked I think there urgently needs to be a process everyone trusts, where people who have any concerns about the behaviour of others in Parliament can safely raise issues so they are properly investigated and appropriate action taken.
Having been in the Labour whips' office for many years now I seem to have managed a sheltered life with no application of any dark arts. And in terms of difficult personnel issues coming my way I had far more when I was John Leggott College Principal!.
Getting on with the job means continuing to stand up for Scunthorpe Market so I was happy to present the largest local petition I have ever seen in the UK House of Commons last week. To have got 19,000 signatures in just 4 weeks shows how much people value the market and ought to make the Conservative Council think again.
Ashby Market is very different taking place just once a week so it is good that the first week in its new location on the Broadway seems to have gone well. Many Ashby traders were always positive about the change though there were serious concerns about how the consultation was managed.
Markets are a great place for small businesses to start so I have been delighted by the range and volume of nominations for the fantastic small businesses we have locally as part of my Small Business Saturday UK Awards. Nominations have now closed so now the difficult job of shortlisting begins.
As well as the Federation of Small Businesses and the Admin Centre I am joined by last year's great winners - the The Crows Nest Barbers and Taylor's Family Butchers - to do the shortlisting this year. Small businesses grow in to larger businesses so it was good to meet up with the local business leaders when I met with the Hull and Humber Chamber this week. It was good to hear that business is doing pretty well though there was also quite a strong call for getting on with the process of leaving the EU in a way that takes away uncertainty.
Sadly that's not something that's going to happen any time soon! I also dropped into 2 Sisters Food Group to be updated on their work. They are having unannounced visits from their retail customers every day as well as visits from the Food Standards Agencyand North Lincolnshire Council. The visits have all gone well.
It was good to visit the Cancer Research UK labs near the Royal Marsden and see first-hand the world class research that is going on. As November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month I was very pleased to show my support for the pancreatic cancer charities by hosting an event in parliament. Finally after doing my first ever volunteering for Scunthorpe parkrun on Saturday I nipped across the road to the Scunthorpe Baptist Church who were hosting the Global Leadership Summit for the seventh time. Well done to everyone for making this happen.
My Diary Week Ending 5th November 2017 Whilst Westminster whirls around in scandal and crisis I've been getting on with the job of doing my best for local people. On...
My Diary Week Ending 22nd October 2017
It's been a busy week of good stuff! I launched my Small Business Saturday competition and we already have over 100 nominations. This is an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic contribution our small businesses make to the local economy and local community. As well as the Champion Small Business and Great Customer Service categories I am having a special award this year for the Best Market Stall. Why not go on line and nominate your fa...vourite businesses at www.nicdakin.com
The response of our community to the threat to Scunthorpe Market has been fantastic with around 19,000 people signing the petition in just 4 weeks asking the Tory Council think again. Our businesses also need to make the best of local talent. So it was great to join a multitude of local employers at an inspiring ThisAbility event held at Glanford Park. This showed how people with disabilities can make a huge contribution in the workplace and was quite inspirational. People were still buzzing about it the next day when I bumped into them at an equally inspiring Women Into Manufacturing and Engineering event held at the Humber UTC.
Inspiration was the name of the game at St Hugh's SEN School where students were being presented with some fabulous books to read over the coming half term. And I have nothing but the biggest admiration for the inspiring people at the Neuro Rehabilitation Centre based in Goole who transform the lives of local people who suffer brain injury. It was good to join them for their celebration. They perform miracles as do Small Miracles Pre-School who I dropped in to see their fantastic new extension.
In Westminster I was involved in a Mindfulness conference for parliamentarians across the world. It is good to learn more about the way this practice is helping in health, education and justice. Other stuff this week included another Steel All Party Group meeting, chairing a round table on the treatment of eczema, taking part in a discussion about T levels, dropping in to yet another Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning (this time in the House of Commons!), and catching up with local champions of Initial Teacher Training.
It was also good to catch up with University of Lincoln students on a day in which Labour won a by-election on the City Council. I'm really proud of my colleagues Chris Bryant MP and Holly Lynch MP whose campaigning has seen the Assault on Emergency Workers private member's bill progress to the next stage. It's important the people who put themselves on the front line to protect us are protected themselves.
Finally on that note of protection your local community pharmacy can give you a flu vaccine to protect you this winter. Whitworth Chemists Scunthorpe at Brumby Corner administered the jab to me at the end of Friday (see picture) and apart from a slightly sore arm I've had no reaction. So I should be fighting fit this Winter!!!
My Diary Week Ending 22nd October 2017 It's been a busy week of good stuff! I launched my Small Business Saturday competition and we already have over 100 nominations. This...