Hi guys. I hope you have all had a good summer. It has been great to be back home in the constituency full time for the summer recess. I have been spending the time dealing with casework, meeting with businesses, organisations and community groups, as well as getting back out on the doorstep speaking to residents and holding my regular advice surgeries. Here are some of the highlights:
You will probably have seen in the news about the current challenges faced by our steelworks and you may have heard me talking about it on BBC Tees. I have met with the Northern Powerhouse minister, James Wharton, to discuss what support the steel industry needs from his government as a priority. Whilst many of the external pressures like falling global steel prices are out of our control, there are steps the government can take to support our steel producers and help create resilience against the current storm. I have also met with the Chief Operating Office of SSI Cornelius Louwrens and representatives from the steelworks' Multi-Union Committee and am in regular contact with management at the site. I know it has been a really tough time for everyone in the industry over the last few weeks in particular and everyone is working flat out to keep things going. We all have to keep fighting for the future of steel on Teesside in a desperately challenging global market.
East Redcar Resident Association (ERRA) – great to chat to ERRA about Parliament and local issues raised by residents such as regeneration.
Environment Agency – talked about a wide range of issues related to our area such as sea defences, dredging, flooding, air pollution, & local industry.
National Citizen Service – great to see another brilliant NCS project renovating the Dormanstown FC facilities - 53 15-17-year-olds completely transformed the clubhouse into a hub for the area’s young people.
NUT – chatted to teachers about pressures on the workforce and their ambitions for giving kids in Redcar and Cleveland the best start in life.
Yearby Airstrip - I met Barry and Stan who build and fly planes including aerobatics. Didn't realise we had such a great little airstrip and some real air enthusiasts in our area!
Centre for Process Innovation – It was really interesting to visit the Wilton HQ of CPI to learn about how they turn new technology and ideas into future products and businesses.
Met with Northern Rail to talk about plans for upgrading trains and stations in our area.
August 19th marked 10 years since we lost Redcar’s greatest MP, one of the greatest ever Labour politicians, and one of the greatest ever women in public life, Marjorie Mowlam.
We have the memorial mosaic by the Boating Lake which is a lovely tribute but I have asked residents if they would like to see something more. Perhaps a memorial event or concert? What about a blue plaque? Or even a statue?
Local people have come forward with their ideas and memories of ‘our Mo’. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's see if we can do something in this memorial year to pay tribute to this wonderful woman.
North East Chamber of Commerce – It was good to meet with Ross Smith, Director of Policy at NECC, to talk about priorities for our region including devolution, procurement and skills.
Went to visit the Link – an excellent organisation offering help and support to children and young people who are experiencing mental health and emotional wellbeing issues. It was great to hear about the amazing early intervention work they do with young people.
Coatham House – another brilliant organisation working with young people, providing supportive accommodation to homeless people aged 16 to 25.
If you know someone who you think may benefit from either of these organisation please contact my office and we can provide details.
On 20th August I spent a day shadowing various Coast & Country Housing teams including the Welfare Reform team and the HomeCall initiative, which helps people stay independent for longer. I was really impressed with the broad range of support they offer and their commitment and dedication to helping local people, particularly the most vulnerable.
Coastal View – it was lovely to catch up with Lynne and Steve at our community newspaper.
Friends of Redcar Cemetery – met with some of the team. They work so hard to care for it and make it such a special place.
I enjoyed meeting members of the Bengali community in South Bank. They are very proud of their South Bank roots and we discussed local regeneration.
Redcar Beacons – it was great to go out with the volunteers to see how they are on hand to help anyone in need on the high street after a heavy night. First aid, water, plasters, help or just a hug on a night out!
Redcar and Cleveland MS Society – it was good to chat with members of our local MS society and Tom Blenkinsop MP about access to support and healthcare as well as the impact of welfare reform.
Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation – It was great to have a tour of the fantastic football and learning facilities at Eston. A real community asset. On Wednesday night I also helped present certificates at the foundation’s awards evening where NCS students had their graduation night with George Friend.
Teenage Cancer Trust – They are my Charity of the Year and I had a great chat with Zoe about the challenges I am going to do for them to raise money. We have put together a calendar of events for the year and I can’t wait to start!
Anchor Housing at Eston – I visited Jubilee Court to meet residents and carers at this lovely Anchor Housing retirement site.
Christians Against Poverty, Eston branch – I had a really good meeting with CAP in Eston to talk about supporting people struggling with debt. Sanctions and the Bedroom Tax are two of the biggest issues leading people to seek CAP’s help.
Met with Barclays’ Redcar team to hear about their partnerships with schools, the support with digital services they offer, and their local charity work.
Alzheimer’s Society training – Proud that my team are now all Dementia Friends, changing the way we think, talk and act about dementia. Big thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society for delivering the training at our constituency office.
Redcar Development Trust - I am proud to be a trustee of this great local charity which runs programmes that prepare people for employment, as well as entertainment days for the older generation and many other activities from the Coatham Memorial Hall.
Met with Redcar & Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency – a big meeting with local voluntary organisations and Tom Blenkinsop to discuss local and national challenges.
Friday started with a good meeting with Unite, GMB, Teesside Construction Committee, and fellow Teesside MPs to discuss the next steps of the Pay The Rate campaign on Wilton.
Then I went to talk with Redcar & Cleveland Labour councillors about all sorts of issues including the local response to the refugee crisis.
On the afternoon I was really pleased to open Redcar’s newest care home, Sandbanks Care Centre, built in the site of the old Stead hospital. It is a nice touch to name the home’s three floors after three of the biggest figures in Redcar’s history - John Edward Stead, Gertrude Bell and Mo Mowlam.
Then I held one of my regular advice surgeries, this time in Eston, where I helped residents with a range of issues including housing, tax credits and tacking mercenary mobile phone companies!
Parliament returns from summer recess tomorrow which means I will be back to spending the first half of the week representing Redcar in Westminster, returning home to the constituency on Fridays. My office team are always on hand to help with any issues you may have.
As well as these fortnightly summaries, I will soon be sending out regular email updates about the work I am doing for you. Sign up to receive these here: http://eepurl.com/bxTMaj