General Election 2024 - Scunthorpe: Heritage Party's Scott Curtis shares his views

The Heritage Party's Scott Curtis, pictured, is standing in Scunthorpe constituency
-Credit: (Image: Image supplied)

The economy and keeping the furnaces going, the Heritage Party's Scott Curtis gave as a priority if he is elected as Scunthorpe MP.

In the run-up to polling day, Scunthorpe Live is speaking to Scunthorpe candidates, 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.

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Scott Curtis is standing for the Heritage Party and has lived in Bottesford almost all his life. The majority of his career has pertained to the steelworks, he said, including more on the administrative side of a contract for several years. He added this gave him "a bit of knowledge" with how British Steel worked, at least with contractors.

What will be your priorities for Scunthorpe, if elected?

"The main priority will be the local economy," he said. "Primarily the steelworks, keeping the furnaces running. It’s very important because it’s not just our economy, it’s not just the country’s economy but it’s also a matter of national security. We need to be able to create high-quality steel and not just whatever we can create out of scraps, recycled steel, which is what the arc furnaces would do if they’re set up."

If they are decommissioned, he said of the blast furnaces, he would like to get other industry set up on the brownfield site and diversify it. "There’s a lot of space on the steelworks where, if we change to the electric arc furnaces, it’s going to be just sitting there not doing anything, so we want to get that in use as quickly as possible, if the worst comes to the worst."

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?

"I know the Chinese were asking for a large payout in order to repair the furnaces," Scott Curtis asserted. "I would lobby for that to go through but I would add a stipulation that we need to be able to come in and actually check and see what they’re doing"

He claimed that the steelworks haven't been managed well in the time Jingye has owned the site. He, in particular, said he had heard proposed repair work of the furnaces that involved their temporary turning off had been refused.

"If we do plug in money, in order to get them repaired, then we need to be able to have a say in how it’s being run."

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

"Our stance on the conflict in Gaza specifically is we hope for a ceasefire and we would push for a ceasefire in any way we could. We don’t like seeing people’s lives wasted anywhere," he said.

"We will not be hanging anything militarily, we will not be inserting ourselves into conflict, but we certainly don’t want to see it." He said the UK needed to "sort our own house before we try and deal with other people’s issues abroad, but we’ll speak out against".

The Scunthorpe steelworks skyline in late January
The Scunthorpe steelworks skyline in late January -Credit:Donna Clifford/GrimsbyLive

How would you as the MP try to support people struggling with the cost of living?

"My primary focus would be to try and bolster the economy of the Scunthorpe region specifically, try and do what we can to put more money into people’s pockets." That included whether through better existing jobs locally, or bringing in more work, if possible.

"On a national scale, we do hope to reduce drastically the amount of immigration coming into the country. It depresses wages, strains services, it’s driving inflation which reduces purchasing power. We desperately want to help out with that because we know it’s a terrible thing that’s happening to everyone in the country."

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

"A more robust police force in the short term will be necessary to deal with the crime, as it currently exists. But personally, I think the real issue we’re facing is social degradation on every level," he said. "I think we need to start looking into outreach to people while they’re still young," he said, adding to support them in any way can, including community-driven activities.

"Something like art programmes, something where people can come together, meet people and help out in a healthy, constructive way," he said, so that people meeting on the streets for unsavoury activities is reduced.

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?

On the proposed hospital changes, he brought up the future community diagnostic centre (CDC) and welcomed the impact it could have. "If that would help relieve some of the strain on the general hospital, I think having any of the tests done outside of the hospital itself would be a good idea. And then keeping the hospital itself for any serious matters or actual matters that require seeing a specialist."

On parking, he added the CDC would reduce the amount of parking sought at the hospital. "That’s my biggest issue, when I visit the hospital, it’s less to do with the payments, it’s to do with actually finding a space." He recalled there at least used to be a shuttle service going from the town centre multi-storey car park to the hospital. "I think if we had one that was dedicated, shuttling to the hospital, that would be good."

"I would want to have that subsidised. If you want people to be able to see their families while they’re in hospital, that’s a basic thing that I think people should be able to do. If there’s any way we can do that, I’d support it. Unfortunately, the hospital is where it is and there’s not really any space around it to expand the car park, so we’ve got to work with the space we’ve got."

"Any kind of shuttle service, or subsidising the car park costs if possible, then I would support doing that."

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

"We think we should serve all constituents in a fair and just capacity, regardless of their sexual orientation. I think that bolstering the economy and having a stronger communal spirit would be better for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they are from.

"We wouldn’t discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation. In the same manner, we wouldn’t discriminate in favour of anyone based on their sexual orientation. We want what’s best for the country as a whole.

"If there are any specific issues coming up that do affect specific communities, obviously we’ll try to address them," he said, but would not make "any general statements in favour of or against any community, in general".

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

"I’d like to see the High Street recover a bit," he said. "I’d like to see it a bit more repopulated and maybe even some smaller shops, that’d be nice.

On public transport, he said: "I’d like it to be more available and frequent. I’ve had people in my family even complaining that the bus service isn’t what it used to be. The buses don’t go as many places as they did, they don’t go as frequently, it’s difficult to get into town if you’re not driving yourself.

"I’d just like people to be a bit more prideful in Scunthorpe itself, its history. When you see the signs for Scunthorpe, they’re all talking about the new campus that got put in the other year," he said, referring to the University Campus North Lincolnshire. "There’s not a single mention of the steelworks at all."

He noted the statue by the Scunthorpe mall named The Foundry, but continued: "But it seems to be that people sort of want to leave that in the past.

"And if the steelworks closes down, while everyone’s sad about it, the people in charge of making Scunthorpe presentable sort of see that as, ‘well, it’s going, let’s forget about it’.

"It doesn’t sit right with me, I think every single generation of my family has worked on the steelworks since it was made. It’s a part of our legacy and I’d like to honour it."