General Election 2024 - Scunthorpe: Green Party's Nick Cox interviewed

Nick Cox, the Green Party's candidate in Scunthorpe County
-Credit: (Image: Image supplied)

Climate and social justice are priorities for the Green Party's Nick Cox, if he is elected as Scunthorpe's MP.

In the run-up to polling day, Scunthorpe Live is speaking to as many of the Scunthorpe candidates as it can, putting to them set questions to find out their priorities and stances. There are seven candidates standing in the constituency.

Scunthorpe is now a slightly redrawn constituency compared to the last general election. As well as the town itself, it has expanded to include some places that were previously in the now defunct Brigg & Goole constituency such as Winterton, Burton-upon-Stather, Gunness, Winteringham, Alkborough and Flixborough.

Read More:

Nick Cox, standing for the Greens, is from the East Midlands. He has worked in the armed services and police, including nine years as a frontline police officer. He has been a parish councillor for twenty years and a school governor. He has two kids at university, and is himself studying Physics with Philosophy at the University of York.

What will be your priorities for Scunthorpe, if elected?

"I'm climate first or environment first on my statement, so therefore, I’d expect constituents to be behind that idea. But climate justice is difficult to achieve unless you’d got the social justice to go with it," he added. He would also prioritise a communication consultation. This would ensure he understood the concerns of residents and businesses "in order to make sure they are treated fairly and their voices are heard". He also identified the steel industry as a priority.

The steelworks - there are real fears of more than two thousand job losses, should the coke blast furnace closures go ahead as planned. What will you do to try to ensure those fears never become reality?

"There’s going to be fears with any change, but modernisation, decarbonisation of our industry is inevitable." Returning to the theme of social justice with climate justice, he said, "We’ve got to make sure we bring people with us, alleviate those fears." He called for investments in the community as much as money is being given to the steelworks to make its transition.

"There is always going to be with transition that period where you’re between jobs, that’s why our social justice includes things like universal basic income," he said adding that in a person's lifetime they are likely to change jobs. "But we need to invest especially in communities where the whole community is based around the industry. We can’t expect people to change and modernise unless we take them with us, and we’ve got to look after communities. Unlike the coal industry, where we let villages go to waste.

"That investment in the community would make sure we get sustainable, green jobs in other industries into the area as well."

Scunthorpe steelworks last summer
Scunthorpe steelworks last summer -Credit:Getty Images

Across the Humber region, we have had questions on the Gazan conflict for candidates. How will you represent constituents’ views on foreign policy issues, like Gaza?

"Again, it’s that consultation process," he said, highlighting the importance of being at the heart of a constituency, talking to and asking people to find out what they want. "That’s where you can best represent them."

On Gaza specifically, he said, "The Green Party have from the middle of October, been calling for a ceasefire, I think we were the only party that were that early on. We obviously condemn what happened on October 7 as well. But we need a ceasefire, we need to get humanitarian aid in there. I strongly suspect I would be reflecting the views of the majority of constituents on that," he said.

What would you as the MP do to support people struggling with the cost of living?

"We're quite radical," he said, before arguing for universal basic income as a longer term prospect of getting social justice. An immediate change he called for, "is definitely to end this cap on the two-child benefits for family allowance. For some reason, the big parties are really shying away from that, I don’t know why. It’s a no brainer, straight into the heart of the matter."

In the medium term, he called for a different programme to improve home insulation. "That’s the way to keep people’s bills down."

If elected, what will you advocate to help address crime and anti-social behaviour locally?

"When people leave their homes in the morning, what they want is to breathe fresh air and to feel safe." He hoped if elected to have a good working relationship with the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner. "We could help together drive forward the improvements needed to address the local concerns there.

"On a national basis, the policy of the Green Party, we’re heavily into things like restorative justice." He added: "It helps offenders better with rehabilitation than putting them in overcrowded prisons. It also gives another stronger voice to victims as well in that process"

Reader-prompted question: “Which one of you will seek to end the tax on visiting loved ones in hospital or ourselves having to go to to hospital? Parking fees and on road fear of a ticket are a added problem.” - What is your stance on proposed hospital changes, and hospital parking charges?

Hospital parking was a "big issue" everywhere, he said, particularly historically with hospitals built in town centres or the middle of residential areas. "I’m guessing they do need to bring in some kind of fees to manage the estate and also to prevent abuse of the parking there." He said if people had to go regularly and through those means with being unable to use public transport, "There really ought to be some kind of system whereby this is certainly affordable and it’s not deemed as a tax."

"Car parking generally, I would like to invest in it and have a reliable, safe public transport system." People who needed to park, he said, "If it’s a question of need, then really they should be helped with the costs."

On the potential Scunthorpe General Hospital changes, he said the local Greens were opposed to anything that reduced services and that is where he would stand. "On things like this, this is where I have to fight for the constituents. If I don’t, there isn’t anybody. If they’re going to have detrimental services, because of these moves, I have to fight them."

Scunthorpe has had its first Pride event in the last year. How will you represent the concerns of the LGBT+ community in Parliament?

"On this particular subject, there are certain sections of society who’ve been treated differently and faced discrimination and been treated badly because of the way they are, in other words, who they are. We have become more aware of the injustices that they have faced in the past. Not just based on LGBTIQA+, it’s other areas as well. Now we’ve become aware, we are changing the way we do things, we are actually treating people fairly."

He said he saw at university first hand the help to support groups and to protect individuals' needs. He suggested there may be good people in Parliament better able to fight their causes. "I can only say that I have an understanding of the issues, appreciate them. I think it’s been unfair the way they’ve been treated badly in the past," he said, and therefore there are reforms due.

How would you like to have seen the area improved in five years' time?

"It’s going to be difficult to make the necessary changes in five years, especially for what we want for Scunthorpe." The biggest single thing would be "making inroads so people have medical appointments, whether that be GP or dentists".

"It’s heartbreaking that people are struggling with things like dentistry. People are pulling out their own teeth," he said.

"I’d like to think we’ve got the bold plans ourselves for the changes everybody’s asking for in our manifesto. I hope we can start tackling them and I’d like the residents feel they have a safe environment. Things like clean waters and clean waterways. Clean air, I know we’ve got some electric buses, really we ought to expand that to all the other towns and villages within the Scunthorpe area.

"We ought to re-energise the local economy and increasing local decision making as well". Overall, he wanted "a fair community with reliable public services".