General Election 2024 - Scunthorpe: Labour's Sir Nic Dakin shares his priorities if elected

Labour's candidate for Scunthorpe County constituency, Sir Nic Dakin, standing outside John Leggott College
-Credit: (Image: Labour Party / Nic Dakin)

The steelworks, Scunthorpe General Hospital and help on cost of living are priorities for Labour's Sir Nic Dakin, 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:

Labour's Nic Dakin was the town's MP from 2010-2019. Before that, he was also North Lincolnshire Council leader from 1997 to 2003. He was a teacher at John Leggott College while a councillor and, at one stage, also became the college's principal. He is a trustee of Lindsey Lodge, North Lincolnshire MIND, and a Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce board member. He has lived in the area locally for about 40 years and brought up his three kids here, too.

What will be your priorities for Scunthorpe, if elected?

He gave three main priorities, which included "to make sure the people in need are supported through the cost of living crisis" and "fighting for our steel industry". The other was to "stand up to Scunthorpe Hospital", which he explained in the context of the proposed transfer of service elements to Grimsby only.

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 think the steel industry in the UK and in Scunthorpe is at a crossroads. The current owners Jingye, and Tata in South Wales, are both at the moment going down a route with the current Conservative government," he said, "of just using recycled steel through electric arc furnaces".

He argued: "The Labour Party has a more ambitious view of where the steel industry should be." If it wins the general election, it was committed to £3bn steel industry investment, "which would allow us to decarbonise in a way that totally retains our primary steelmaking capacity". Coke blast furnaces provide the primary steel ability currently.

"In the medium term, that ought to be deliverable through a new technology, which is called direct reduced iron. Currently used in natural gas, but it ought to be able to run on hydrogen." There was still investment to get this delivered in the right place and right way for the industry. But it was "the more ambitious future" both for green steel jobs and to ensure the security of our defence and infrastructure.

A 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?

"I took part, as many people did locally, in the consultation about hospital changes. I’m not convinced it’s the right thing for patient outcomes." That the response time to the consultation had been extended by the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) "suggests that there are serious issues that they need to grapple with," Sir Nic said.

"Consistently, both patients and local clinicians have indicated to me that these proposed changes may well not be in the best interests of patient outcomes." He added: "Everybody needs to work together towards a common goal, and that’s what I’d be committed to."

Scunthorpe General Hospital sign on Cliff Gardens - part prompted by a reader-submitted question, all Scunthorpe candidates are being asked about their views on proposed hospital changes, and parking charges
Scunthorpe General Hospital sign on Cliff Gardens - part prompted by a reader-submitted question, all Scunthorpe candidates are being asked about their views on proposed hospital changes, and parking charges -Credit:Donna Clifford/GrimsbyLive

On parking charges, Sir Nic said he had taken his wife up to A&E last week and paid £4.60 or so for a couple of hours, but others would unfortunately have to stay for longer. "That seems to me a significant burden on people at a time when a lot of people are struggling to have an additional cost, to essentially be charged to have to go to the hospital seems not something you’d ideally have there. I’ve always been clear that most charges oughtn’t be there."

He added the difficulty is with the hospital and country's finances being "in a sorry state", saying: "I’m not certain that anything would be immediately be able to be done about it. But certainly, I would campaign to try and get rid of them."

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?

A number of foreign policy issues had been raised with him in recent weeks, including Gaza, Kashmir and Sri Lanka. "I think the first and foremost thing to do is to listen to what people are saying and respond accordingly." He added it was important to bring about change rather than shout from the sidelines.

On Gaza specifically, the Labour Party’s policy is clear," he said, adding horrific things had been seen in Gaza and Israel. "There are four things that need to happen. There needs to be an immediate ceasefire, there needs to be a release of hostages, there needs to be aid into Gaza, an urgent amount of aid going in there.

"And the fourth thing, the Labour Party’s committed to recognising the Palestinian State within an international solution to the long-standing problem in the Middle East."

Scunthorpe steelworks, pictured in late January
Scunthorpe steelworks, pictured in late January -Credit:Donna Clifford/GrimsbyLive

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

"I think we need to stabilise the economy so that we have low inflation and growth - it’ll bring huge benefits to families after the chaos and rising prices of the last five years, as symbolised by the catastrophic Liz Truss budget that crashed the economy and sent prices soaring.

"Thankfully, things are in a slightly better place now, but still not where they need to be. That secure economy is the first thing to do to help people. Labour’s committed to setting up GB Energy, this will result in better energy security and lower energy bills in the future. Also, things like breakfast clubs in every primary school will help families that are struggling."

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

He said this issue came up all the time, particularly the likes of electric scooters and off-road bikes, which he described as "a real nuisance". "Labour’s basically committed to a return to neighbourhood policing. That’s why they’re committed to 13,000 more police and cracking down on anti-social behaviour," he said, adding the need to get back to basics to tackle the issue.

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

"This was an excellent event celebrating local people that was great fun. If elected, I would see my role as Scunthorpe’s MP in advocating for all our different communities. To do that well, you need to be accessible, listen to concerns and follow them up effectively, and that’s for the LGBTQ community as much as for everybody else."

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

"I hope the area will look better than it does now. I’d quite like to see the potholes and weeds in our roads and pavements gone. I hope that improved neighbourhood policing will mean people no longer have to put up with anti-social behaviour. I hope that our steel industry will have retained its primary steelmaking capacity, and be going from strength to strength.

"I hope our health service will be prospering, I hope our schools and colleges will be delivering, and our local university footprint will be growing. Most importantly, I hope that when I talk to local people, in five years’ time, they will say they are no longer struggling but are thriving, and the area around them is thriving with new things happening." He added the hope there would be pride in the community and an optimism about the area.