Well you might think things would be a bit quieter from the Westminster end of the business with Parliament in recess! Last week was anything but! Firstly the story closest to our community's heart - the future of UK steel. The hapless Business Secretary seemed to have got his weeks mixed up as he flew out a week after the Tata Board meeting to meet Tata chiefs in Mumbai. And given that steel MPs were pointing to the importance of the meeting at the last Prime Minister's Questions before the recess it's hard to believe that the Tory government was so asleep at the wheel that they were unaware of the significance of the meeting for the future of UK steel. Sadly the reality is that the Conservative Government doesn't believe on making the sort of intervention to support our steel industry that other governments do. Take the US who have slapped on tariffs of over 250% on Chinese steel. Or look at the way in which our european partners like Germany and France tackle energy costs for steel producers and ensure their public procurement is supportive of their strategic steel industry. After all that's what government is for: to intervene strategically.
Hopefully the painstaking work of the trade unions, Tata, Greybull Capital and suppliers will result in the conclusion this week of the positive transfer of ownership of the Long Products business, including the Scunthorpe Works, to Greybull. This will represent the start of a new chapter for steelmaking in Scunthorpe which we can all get positively behind.
Whilst the Tory Government was failing to act as a government and intervene appropriately to support our steel industry the Panama Papers opened the lid on what their priorities are. Their support from so many who have been hiding their wealth in offshore havens speaks volumes about whose interests they see as most important to protect. We are certainly not 'all in this together'! With parliament returning this week the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the whole government have many questions to answer.
Scunthorpe has been dominated recently in regards to Scunthorpe’s TATA steel works. I attended the TATA taskforce last Friday regarding the future of the steel works. Many representatives were present including fellow politicians, councillors and other representatives from the Job Centre, North Lindsey College and government organisations such as BIS.
Ballot papers were distributed to staff this week about the possibility of all staff taking a 3% cut to their wages for the first year in order to further the chances of Greybull buying the steel works. The reduction would be temporary, only lasting one year. As it is likely the steel works would lose a vast amount of money in the first year of a handover, it is strongly believed this would further the chances of Greybull making a final offer.
The announcement of these ballot papers came as the news broke that the chiefs from Greybull and TATA were reportedly meeting in London on Wednesday regarding making a deal for the purchase.
A jobs fair was also held at TATA this week, with various companies from different fields of work, advertising their vacancies to staff who already have and are facing losing their jobs. The companies present were diverse and included Siemens, HMP Doncaster, the local NHS and North Lincolnshire Council, alongside many others. This is the third event of its kind to be held at TATA.
I also enjoyed seeing the area outside my office being very busy recently due to both the school holidays and a dancing festival being held at the Plowright Theatre. It was good to see that local venues, such as the Plowright Theatre are still being used during school holidays.