Prime Minister Theresa May visits Scunthorpe's British Steel works

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 10 May 2017

Employees and management at British Steel welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May to its Scunthorpe site earlier today (Wednesday, May 10).

Management shared details about how far the business has come since its birth on June 1 last year and the plans being put in place to ensure it has a sustainable future. They also reinforced the importance of continued and easy access to the EU and international markets as well as continued access to the UK market for EU and global producers.

The business has been working closely with the Government on its modern Industrial Strategy and shared with Mrs May further thoughts about how both parties can work collectively going forward.

Mrs May, who followed up with a trip to Messingham's Bird in the Barley, said: “It was great to meet with employees at British Steel in Scunthorpe today, and hear how their work is building a bright new future for the business.

I applaud the pride they take in their work, which was clearly evident from everyone I talked to.

We have already provided important support for the industry, and I will continue to ensure the success of UK steel is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

British Steel executive chairman Roland Junck said: “We’ve developed a vision that has 3 elements – firstly, we want to become a leader of business and community re-development in the areas in which we operate.

“Secondly, nationally we want to be the national champion in our chosen markets and recognised as the centre of competence for steel. And thirdly, internationally we want to be a competitive exporter and the right strategic business partner.”

“We told the Prime Minister today that while we have already come a long way, we still have more to do to become sustainable and our vision strongly depends on how we can work collectively with the Government to make sure UK industry and UK manufacturing, is successful.”

The Prime Minister also spent time with employees who work at the business’s Rail and Section Mill. They talked about how the business is changing, discussed their thoughts on the future of the steel industry and how the Government has a big part to play in this.

Major infrastructure projects were touched on, not least HS2 - the upcoming giant UK rail project - and Mrs May told how steps had been made to ease procurement, but emphasised that the decision would be up to HS2 itself.

Mr Junck said: “I’d like to thank the Prime Minister for visiting today. I’m delighted she met some of our team in their workplace and heard first-hand how they’ve helped turn our business around. Our employees have been fundamental to our success – along with our union colleagues, they’ve all played a huge role and continue to play a huge role in the turnaround of British Steel.

“We’ve been able to show Mrs May how a business that in the eyes of many, even recently, was condemned to disappear has started to become a respected member of the steel and industrial community. I’m looking forward to continuing to work together with the next Government as we take the UK and the British steel industry forward.”

MORE: Prime Minister says she is 'not taking chances on the election' following her visit to Scunthorpe

Following the General Election announcement last month, the last Scunthorpe MP, Labour's Nic Dakin, criticised the Prime Minister and said she "should be concentrating on Brexit."

"I don't think there is any reason why there should be a General Election," he said.

"The Prime Minister should focus on her job and not distract from the argument over jobs for local people after Brexit."

Mr Dakin is looking to retain the seat which he has held since 2010, and was a guest of the Lincolnshire Iron and Steel Institute at the annual dinner on Friday.

Elsewhere, Ukip has confirmed that it will be contesting the seat and the Liberal Democrats are also expected to nominate a candidate.

However, the Green Party have opted not to stand in Scunthorpe and will be contesting Brigg and Goole and Cleethorpes instead.

Minister for Trade, Liam Fox, joined Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Grimsby, Jo Gideon, at Port of Grimsby too.

They met early offshore wind pioneer Kurt Christensen, pictured left, managing director of Wind Power Support, and talked up how northern towns like Grimsby, which relies heavily on the strength of its local industries, can thrive in a post-Brexit Britain.

Speaking about the Conservatives' chances in next month's election, Dr Fox, said: "It's very clear that there are people willing to support us who have never supported us before.

"We take nothing for granted but I think there is a very strong chance that Grimsby will find itself with a Conservative representative in the House of Commons.

"As we go in to the very important Brexit negotiations having a voice will be very advantageous."

The trade minister also outlined how supporting UK exports, spending money on infrastructure and securing overseas investment will help to drive "huge development potential" in English regions like Grimsby, post Brexit.

He said: "We need to understand what the UK economy is capable of exporting. At the moment only 11 per cent of UK companies sell any of their goods or services beyond Britain's borders and that has to improve.

"We have to ensure we have proper inward investment in sectors that will provide the greatest wealth creation for the country.

"Our priority will be to make sure that investment is coming into the UK in the places where it can most make a difference.

"Most of the world trades without the EU and it will remain an important part of our trade but it has slumped from 50 per cent to around 40 per cent in recent years.

TORY TOUR: Liam Fox, Jo Gideon and Martin Vickers with Kurt Christensen.

"We need to find growing markets. I've just come back from the Far East where the potential for UK exports is enormous and where the demand for British goods is enormous."

In response to the visit, Melanie Onn, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Grimsby, said: “The Conservatives have been terrible for our region. They’ve cut police officers while violent crime is increasing, and their consistent underfunding of the NHS has caused waiting times to rise and patient care to get worse.

“Now the Conservatives are planning to cut teachers at our local schools and close two nurseries in Great Grimsby alone."

Claiming she ducked questions on policing and health, Ms Onn added: “Theresa May should answer for her record, but instead she’s hiding.

“People in Great Grimsby know the Conservatives have never cared about our area, and the fact that Theresa May won’t speak to people here shows that.”

Mr Fox did answer questions on the NHS, see the report on the Grimsby Telegraph website

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