I hope you are well! As you would expect, it has been an extremely busy time both in Scunthorpe and in Parliament so far this year. We have waved goodbye to the last of COVID-19 restrictions (touchwood) and can now accelerate our efforts to finish existing projects as well as attract further opportunities to our area. I have been making the absolute most of being able to visit community groups, businesses and residents here in Scunthorpe, and continue to make the fight for support for our steelworks and an upgraded Scunthorpe Hospital in Westminster.
The House of Commons Library have actually created a fantastic tool to show the words most often used by each MP in Parliament and it will come as no surprise that 'Scunthorpe', 'steel' and 'local' are topping the bill as my most used words!
You may have heard that plans for the redevelopment of Scunthorpe town centre have now been given the green light. This project, centred around an exciting Enterprise and Innovation Hub, is backed by government funding and will bring new jobs and businesses to our High Street. I look forward to seeing the first bricks being laid soon.
Like all residents, I am watching the sad events unfolding in Ukraine very closely, and was present for the Prime Minister's Statement to the House of Commons on Thursday. It is right that we are working with allies to put pressure on Russia wherever we can. No democratic, sovereign country should be stolen of her right to self-determination in 2022. Events are moving fast, but I will be watching this closely.
As ever, please find below my progress reports on key local issues:
- Protecting and promoting our world-class British Steel
- Improving our local health offering, upgrading Scunthorpe Hospital
- Improving Our Local Roads
- Supporting our local businesses, community groups, and building up our high street
- Working with our schools
Protecting and promoting our world-class British steel
What is being done?
The high energy prices facing our steelworks continue to be at the top of the agenda. I am determined to ensure that there is Government support in place for steelworkers given the huge rise in wholescale electricity costs, and the general expectation that they will not decrease any time soon.
Having raised the situation directly with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, I was pleased to receive assurances that the Chancellor will be bringing forward a package of support for industry in due course. I have since had a further meeting with the Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry, Lee Rowley, to emphasise the importance of this package.
Earlier this month, I had to pull over in Scunthorpe to have an emergency call with the Minister for Industry and other MP colleagues to talk about the ongoing problems with Liberty Steel, which employs a lot of people here in Scunthorpe. With this being a worrying time for many people at Liberty Steel, I wanted to make sure that this was high on the Government’s agenda and I am glad that it is.
There has been some good news so far this year, with a change in steel import tariffs taking place from 1st January to protect our local and national commercial commodity merchant bars production.
Effectively this change will split the quotas for a category of steel imports (Category 12) into two separate parts (12A and 12B), so that an increase in 12A import capacity will not threaten our 12B (Commercial Bar) production.
This is an issue that I have discussed at length with British Steel, and one that I have specifically raised with the Trade Secretary during our meeting last year. The current development has been warmly welcomed by the industry and I'm pleased to have played my role in securing the right way forward on this.
In January, I also had a meeting with the Trade Secretary and other Steel Conservative MPs to hear about her recent talks in America to address the problem with Section 232 tariffs and global excess capacity on steel. It’s so important for our steelworks here in Scunthorpe that we get a solution to this, so I was delighted to hear that there have been some positive steps in the right direction.
There's rarely a week at work without some form of meetings, discussions, letters, and other correspondence regarding steel with stakeholders, colleagues, and ministers and this will continue to be a huge priority.
Improving our local health offering, upgrading Scunthorpe Hospital
What is being done?
Local stakeholders are working together on upgrading Scunthorpe General Hospital. From securing land, to the local NHS Trust submitting their interest for a new hospital, to neighbouring MPs and I championing the cause in Parliament, there is an ongoing effort to see long-term investment in our local health infrastructure.
You may have seen that the Prime Minister announced the upcoming lifting of remaining COVID-19 restrictions this month. Given the indirect effect that the COVID pandemic has had on all types of patient care in Scunthorpe, bouncing back from the last two years will be a huge effort. So I stood up to ask the PM if he agreed with me that now is the right time to invest in hospitals like Scunthorpe.
This was the second time in two weeks that I had been able to make the case for a new Hospital in the Commons, having raised the proposal with the Health Minister the week before. In his words, I am not afraid to 'politely but firmly' show my support for long-term investment!
You may have heard that North Lincolnshire's vaccination rollout has been recognised as outstanding by the UK Health Security Agency. This is by no means an easy feat. It is the collective efforts of hundreds of volunteers and staff in our area who have worked tirelessly to inoculate the public. Over the past two years, I have been glad to play my part in raising concerns about supply and fighting for a mass vaccination centre. It is absolutely right that the area's efforts have been praised in this way.
A new MRI scanner arrived at Scunthorpe Hospital last month. The state-of-the-art equipment was delivered to the new-look unit which you can view here. This is part of the £4.6 million extension of the MRI suite.
I am keen to secure a firm commitment from the Government that they will invest in the long-term future of our health infrastructure. By showing that we are a united front on this locally, I hope we can do just that.
Improving our local roads
What is being done?
I am pleased that North Lincolnshire Council and Humberside Police are stepping up enforcement at the Brumby Wood Lane junctions where it joins Kingsway (A18) in Scunthorpe. Cameras will be installed in coming weeks to monitor the junction, after the tragic accidents that have taken place there. If residents continue to face problems around there or anywhere else, please do get in touch with me so I can feedback to the relevant parties.
North Lincolnshire Council is adding 18 new electric mopeds to its current fleet of ten, giving almost three times as many people the chance to get into the workplace. The mopeds can be rented by eligible North Lincs residents to help them get to work or college.
This is a really great scheme. Being unable to get about can be one of the biggest barriers, especially for younger people. Don’t worry I didn’t ride off without a helmet!
I will continue to raise residents' concerns about our roads with our local teams and/or the Department for Transport. Please do get in touch with any issues.
Supporting our local businesses, community groups, and building up our High Street
What is being done?
I was again fortunate to open North Lincolnshire Council's Jobs Expo (albeit virtually from Parliament!), where local residents could scout the latest vacancies and find a new job on the day. More than 40 employers were present and some very promising discussions were taking place between potential employers and employees. I hope we can look back on it as a very successful day for everyone involved.
A number of residents have contacted me with worries about the tidying planned at the memorial park at our crematorium. I of course passed on these concerns to North Lincs Council and I’m pleased to say they responded very quickly to reassure residents, promising to commence a clean up immediately with consideration for sentimental items. You can read their response on my website. A big thank you to all who took the time to let me know about their worries on this and to North Lincs Council for their very swift action.
I had the pleasure of being asked by the ICCM Metals Recycling Scheme to present a cheque to the Scunthorpe Samaritans recently. After attending the opening of the Samaritans garden in Scunthorpe to commemorate the charity's history in our town, it was great to further support this fantastic organisation. Locally, I am so grateful for the invaluable care and support that charities like Samaritans provide. Following the pandemic, open discussions about mental health and how we are feeling are so important.
In January, I took a visit to our local Gurdwara on Frodingham Road to celebrate the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.I remember passing the Gurdwara as a child and being intrigued to go inside but never had the opportunity until now, thank you to our local Sikh community for making me feel so welcome and sharing such interesting information on the Sikh faith and local issues.
Just last week, I was able to pay another visit to Hall Farm. It's always good fun to have a trip around the farm, and I was fortunate to meet Brigadier Monteith from the Army Benevolent Fund. The Army Benevolent Fund awards grants to individuals and families, and funds leading organisations that support solders, former soldiers, and their families- a fantastic cause that shows veterans the respect they deserve. Combined with the work Hall Farm do locally to help local ex-service personnel using their therapy animals, these groups have done a lot for veterans in our area.
In a less mucky but equally important trip, I visited St John's Market to back the launch of the North Lincolnshire Council-led "shop local" campaign. We want to encourage consumers here to buy from the 100+ independent retailers in our county, and the high streets in Scunthorpe and Ashby are a fantastic place to start!
Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to invite Police and Crime Commissioner Jonathan Evison for a walk around our town centre. I got the chance to raise the need to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area, meeting local businesses who had been affected, and I am pleased to say that Commissioner Evison was keen to tackle the issue too.
I have written two more "Business Updates" for our local firms in the past few weeks, highlighting both local and national investment and growth opportunities. You can read the latest one here.
There is never a dull day in our area, and I look forward to visiting even more parts of our town and surrounding villages. I am also keeping a close eye on work being done in Government to help regenerate towns like ours, like the new "Levelling Up" White Paper. I have actually invited the "Levelling Up" Secretary to visit our area!
Working with our Schools
What is being done?
At the end of last year, I wrote to the Government to highlight what more could be done to improve employment opportunities for school leavers with learning disabilities and those who are neurodiverse, citing constituents' stories. I received a response recently, which outlined some of the new measures in the National Disability Strategy that will improve work accessibility for these groups. You can read it here. I am also working with local education providers and charities to see what more opportunities we can provide.
Parents may also be interested to know that North Lincolnshire Council will be holding a careers event called Discover! for 8-12 year old on Saturday 19th March 2022 at the Engineering UTC, from 11am-4pm! This could be a great opportunity to have multi-generational conversations about work, and it could be a fun day out! I have shared this with local businesses too.
I will continue to work with local schools on the bespoke issues facing them, and with local stakeholders to create new opportunities for school leavers.
I look forward to welcoming more schools and youth groups down to Parliament too. Do get in touch via my email or my contact page www.hollymumbycroft.org.uk/contact, and my team and I will do our best to facilitate a visit.
Useful information and links for residents:
If you need anything else, please get in touch with me and I will get back to you when I can.
Take care and stay safe,