Conservative minister on Scunthorpe visit says he wants to see ‘sustainable’ long-term steelworks deal

A Conservative minister said he wanted to see a sustainable long-term deal for Scunthorpe‘s steelworks.

Conservative Party chair Richard Holden MP attends Cabinet as a minister without portfolio. He visited Scunthorpe on a cold evening to be shown by Conservative MP Holly Mumby-Croft developments supported by Towns Fund and other government cash.

In an interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Mr Holden argued plans for the town’s regeneration were thought-through. He also said longer-term steelworks talks remain ongoing.

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He praised the town’s Conservative MP, Ms Mumby-Croft, describing her as the “Queen of Steel”. She is standing for re-election at the next general election. Sir Nic Dakin, her predecessor as MP, will be the Labour Party‘s constituency candidate.

‘Fantastic investments in Scunthorpe’

The Conservative Party chair was shown Queen Elizabeth Memorial Gardens, the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre works and the outside of the enterprise and innovation hub being constructed.

“It’s great to see hopefully in the next few months the hub opening just next door to the council offices here, providing some really great places for new businesses to start,” said Mr Holden. “I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen is this isn’t just about one project, it’s about a lot of projects.”

He noted the town’s recent slew of government cash awards, including £20m from the “Long-Term Plan for Towns”, to be paid out across the next decade. “We all know what it’s like, we’ve seen it all around the country. Businesses have moved away from town centres.”

On how big of a challenge it was to rejuvenate towns like Scunthorpe, he said: “It’s hugely challenging, it really is, because what you’ve got to do is find a reason for people to come in.” He argued: “I think what you’re seeing here is something that’s thought-through, well planned.”

Conservative Party chair Richard Holden MP and Scunthorpe's MP Holly Mumby-Croft pictured in Queen Elizabeth Memorial Gardens
Conservative Party chair Richard Holden MP and Scunthorpe’s MP Holly Mumby-Croft pictured in Queen Elizabeth Memorial Gardens


Mr Holden was also pressed for steelworker reassurances. The £1bn package currently agreed between the government and owners of British Steel will see Scunthorpe’s blast furnaces close and replaced by an electric arc furnace. This will occur at some point after late 2025 and up to 2,000 jobs are at risk.

“There’s obviously longer-term discussions ongoing. I’m sure that the right package can be arrived at with goodwill from the owners,” he said, adding there was goodwill from government and the council.

“I want to see something sustainable for the long-term,” he said. He wanted disused parts of the steelworks site reclaimed. A masterplan is being drawn up for a possible advanced manufacturing park. “I want the reassurance to happen as quickly as possible, but that’s in the hands of not just the government, or the local authority, but also the company.”

“What I would say is you need a really good local champion in an MP to keep fighting for the community. You’ve definitely got that in Holly,” he said, dubbing her “the Queen of Steel”.

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“You can see the future that Holly and the Conservatives want for Scunthorpe, which is really positive,” he said. Examples included the future Community Diagnostics Hub, and the children’s science tech centre planned at St John’s.

Labour critique

Sir Nic Dakin and Labour group leader Cllr Len Foster welcomed any Scunthorpe government investment. “The problem I have is with reconciling the present funding allocation knowing primarily that little or nothing is known about these projects by the respective elected members of the wards involved,” said Cllr Foster.

He criticised this and asserted again that members of the public do not have enough say. “All of this is done time after time without the involvement of the communities concerned.

“It would have been very advantageous if all of these proposals had been included in the devolution document for Greater Lincolnshire and then at least Scunthorpe as a town would have got a mention and we would not of suffered the indignity of being ignored by Whitehall and the Tory government.”

“The reality is that funding to our area has been savagely cut under the Conservatives with less money for council services, health, and the police,” argued Sir Nic Dakin of the wider backdrop behind government town investment.

Sir Nic Dakin, Labour's candidate for the Scunthorpe constituency at the next general election, with Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones, right, in Hull in January
Sir Nic Dakin, Labour’s candidate for the Scunthorpe constituency at the next general election, with Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones in Hull in January

He joined Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones, at a Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier in January. “They were asking for an incoming Labour Government to provide policy certainty to allow big investments to go ahead.

“I was delighted to hear Darren’s commitment to this. Such clarity and consistency around investment after all the chaos of the Tory years will bring about the levelling up local people rightly want to see.”

Original artice: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/all-about/scunthorpe

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