Happy New Year.
During the Christmas period I’m always reminded of the excellent work that local charities do to support our community. The number and range of organisations are so many that it’s impossible to list them all but it’s worth remembering those – like the Forge – that provide support for people who are most vulnerable at this time of year. It was good to join volunteers making shoebox donations to the Lighthouse Project, run so well by the New Life Church. Our faith communities make a real difference through their positive actions. I also dropped in for coffee and carols at Bottesford Baptist Church and heard about the good work they are doing. I was equally pleased to attend the Lindsey Lodge service at St Bernadette’s where the hospice were able to thank all those volunteers and supporters without whose contribution they would not be able carry out the great work they do.
Sadly we’ve seen awful floods across the country and, at the same time as I’m frustrated that the Conservative government’s cancellation of the investment plans that were in place in 2010 hasn’t helped the situation, I’m heartened by the way in which communities have come together in adversity. It is one of our very real human strengths. It’s the same sort of community strength that’s been shown locally in recent months as our steelworks has been under threat. This was again evident at the Special Council Meeting held to respond to the petition signed by many thousands of local people in support of steelworkers and their families.
With the positive news about Greybull Capital’s interest in Tata’s Long Products business, including our integrated steelworks, I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. As with all these things the devil will be in the detail! At long last the Conservative Government delivered on its 3 year old promise to mitigate the higher energy costs for the steel industry caused by its unilateral Carbon Floor Tax. Better late than never!!!! But I remain perplexed that they seem so keen to give subsidies to French Nationalised companies and the Chinese Communists to invest in nuclear power but seem so reluctant to take the actions necessary to ensure UK steel can compete on a level playing field. My responsibility remains continuing to work with colleague MPs, the trade unions and other stakeholders to keep the pressure on the UK Government to deliver on the remaining asks – around business rates, procurement and Chinese dumping. Actions on these areas will build greater confidence in the future and show that the UK is committed to its steel industry which is so strategically important for us all.
It’s not for nothing that Scunthorpe United are known as the Iron. They’ve had a good Christmas going unbeaten over the festive period and playing some of their best football of the season. So hopes are high for the exciting trip to Stamford Bridge. Up the Iron!