As usual, please get in touch with me directly via my email or my contact form (click here) if you would like to discuss any of these issues.
I hope that you are keeping well during these strange times. As I write to you Parliament is now in “recess”. Although this may sound like a mini-break for MPs, it is usually time for MPs such as myself to head back to their constituencies for work. Government and the civil service will also use this time to continue with the law-drafting process. My team and I will be working throughout “recess” to continue to help local residents.
I was fortunate enough to contribute in the last two debates in Parliament before “recess” to leave the government with a “to do” list of what can be done to improve Scunthorpe. I also took the chance to “hard-sell” our steel to Angela Richarson MP during her debate, and will look forward to doing more when Parliament resumes.
Eat Out And Help Out Schemes in place
You may have heard that the government's "Eat Out To Help Out Scheme" has now been put in place. The scheme allows you to get an up to a £10 discount per-person when you eat out on Monday to Wednesdays. You can find out more and locate your closest restaurants here.
This is in addition to a VAT cut for hospitality businesses, which includes restaurants, both of which I understand have been welcomed by our local restaurants.
New SEN School for Scunthorpe
You may have heard of plans for a new SEN school currently being put in place. This is, of course, something that I will work closely with NLC and Wellspring Academy Trust on to ensure that the project goes smoothly.
Earlier last month I was pleased to share the news that all schools in Scunthorpe will be receiving a funding boost.
Working on a list of grants for local charities
I will be spending the next couple of days compiling a list of funds that local organisations and charities can go for. Do keep an eye out on my Facebook and my website for the list. If you know of any charities that need help in Scunthorpe do ask them to get in touch.
I have also put down a list of Parliamentary Bills that have passed in the last session of Parliament which may be of interest.
As usual, please find below my progress reports:
Upgrading Scunthorpe Hospital
What is being done?
Our bid for an upgrade to Scunthorpe General Hospital continues.
I continue to have regular meetings with our local health team, including one last week. I am also actively encouraging residents to write to me about services that they have trouble accessing – so that our CCG is aware of the existing backlog of appointments.
On another note, I am delighted to see that Scunthorpe Hospital’s cancer care will be extended, allowing for a new MRI Scanner with the ability to scan Intensive Therapy Unit patients who would otherwise be transferred to Grimsby.
I continue to push for the restoration of routine hospital appointments and treatments, contacting Health Ministers following my question to the PM.
Work will continue throughout the summer, and we will be submitting our completed bid for a Scunthorpe General Hospital upgrade.
Protecting and promoting our world-class British Steel
What is being done?
In the last Commons debate before recess, I asked the government to sign the UK Steel Charter so that we use British steel for British projects. I think it is common sense that our vision to "Build Build Build" is backed by our steel producers. The Charter would ensure that British-made steel will be used for the railways, stations, hospitals, and schools that are part of the government's programme.
Later on, that day, I was able to raise the importance of using British Steel again. I intervened during fellow MP Angela Richardson’s speech to highlight how steelworks like ours can benefit from new infrastructure projects.
I am also pleased to hear that our steel industry has been given unprecedented access to this government, and will continue to work with UK steel and our unions as co-chair of the Steel Parliamentary group.
I will be spending my summer learning more about our steel industry so that I can do a better job selling our steel both locally and abroad. If you know of anyone that works for our local steelworks that would like to contribute do ask them to get in touch.
Progress Report: Rejuvenating our Local Roads
What is being done?
Work has got underway quickly on our new roundabout on the M181 and I paid a visit earlier this month to check on their progress.
Not only will the new roundabout act as a conduit for jobs, but it will help to alleviate the traffic on Berkeley Circle too – one of my election promises.
I raised the issue of dualling the A15 in a meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and highlighted the need for road safety in our area. I followed-up our meeting by sending the Minister a report on existing options to widen the A15.
I will continue to work with North Lincs Council and the Department of Transport to ensure that this issue is addressed. If you know of anyone with road safety concerns please ask them to get in touch with me directly.
Progress report: Supporting our local businesses, community groups, and building up our high street
What is being done?
I was honoured to meet the creators of Central Park’s own Connor The Covid-19 Snake- Jude and Tilly Cleary- this month.
Connor is made up of hundreds of decorated rocks laid along the path, and Jude and Tilly have done an excellent job in encouraging other families to make Connor into the huge snake he is today. They have also taken responsibility for maintaining the snake over recent weeks as it has grown bigger, making them Scunthorpe’s two youngest conservationists!
I am currently lobbying NLC to ensure that our Local Authority Discretionary Fund can be widened in scope to provide more support for residents, and I will continue to provide local "Business Updates" which you can sign up to here. All records of my Business Updates can be read on my website, with the latest edition here.
I understand that local beauticians have struggled with last Friday's announcement which has prevented them from resuming full service. I have tabled a "Written Question" on behalf of our beauticians which you can read below.
I will continue to provide business updates and advice to our local businesses, charities, and community groups, and will continue to stand up for our businesses in Parliament.
Progress report: Working with our schools
What is being done?
It has been a really positive month for teachers and pupils, so I have written a separate update for our local schools and colleges on my website, which you can read here.
Wellspring Academy Trust has been given the go-ahead to run a new Free School for post-16 SEN children in Scunthorpe. This will fill provision gap for SEN children in this age group in our area, and I look forward to visiting soon.
The funding for all primary and secondary schools in Scunthorpe have been released, and I am pleased to see that each secondary school pupil will receive at least £5,000 a year and every primary school pupil will receive at least £4,000 per annum. I hope this, along with the £1 billion catch-up package, will help schools with the extra workload that the pandemic has brought on, and I am happy to help in any way I can.
The announcement of a 3.1% pay rise for schoolteachers, starting from September, was also extremely welcome. It goes a long way to showing our gratitude for their efforts in recent times.
I will continue to work with our headteachers so that we will be able to safely return our children to school this September.
Progress report: What has Parliament done in the last few months?
Despite the shadow of Covid-19 Parliament continues to function as a legislative body that aims to improve our current laws. You can find below the main laws that have been passed in the last "session" of Parliament.
Domestic Abuse Bill
- Creates a legal definition of domestic abuse, highlighting how abuse can be emotional and economic, not just physical
- Establishes new Protection Orders to make victims safer.
- Prevents victims from having to face abuser in court, making special measures the assumed preference.
- Replacement for EU’s Common Agricultural Policy
- Payments based on public goods, not just the amount of land owned. Incentives for public access to the countryside, maintaining welfare standards and soil health.
- I am delighted to see that this bill will be accompanied by more measures to hold the government accountable for food and welfare standards. You can read more here.
- Sets wheels in motion for a points-based system that treats non-EU citizens equally.
- All nationalities welcome, with a preference for high-skilled workers, English speakers and those with job offers in sectors with worker shortages.
- An NHS Visa will make migration easier for foreign Doctors and Nurses with a job offer, along with their families so they can work in our health service.
- Increased length of terrorism sentences and licence periods.
- Allows Courts to use terrorist connections as an aggravating factor in any crime.
- Builds on efforts to end early release of terrorists earlier this year.
- Implements existing trade arrangements we had with countries through EU.
- Establishes UK Global Tariff, which you can read more about here.
- Creates Trade Remedies Authority that will protect against steel dumping.
As usual, if you know of anyone who needs assistance please do ask them to make direct contact.
Take care and stay safe,