General Election 2024 - Scunthorpe: Reform UK's Darren Haley shares his views

Reform UK's Scunthorpe candidate, Darren Haley, pictured.
-Credit: (Image: Reform UK)

Keeping hospital services as is Reform UK's Darren Haley 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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Darren Haley is 52, married to his childhood sweetheart and spent 19 years in the prisons service as a senior officer. He left in 2015 to start a company for vapes in secure environments like prisons. Its success has allowed him to venture into other business areas, and he and his wife bought Low Hill Farm, Scunthorpe, in 2022.

They are about to open their own secure dog park. He previously stood for UKIP in 2012. He was drafted into stand for the constituency the day after the election was called, after the previous candidate resigned due to personal reasons.

Darren Haley also said he was an inventor and has US and UK patents for a new type of razor blade, Brengor Innovation, to reduce self-harm. He said it would lend itself to the generic market of shaving and spoke about the prospect of it creating "hundreds, if not maybe thousands of jobs" locally, regardless of the election outcome.

What will be your priorities for Scunthorpe, if elected?

"Most certainly, tackling the proposed downsizing of the hospital," he said referring to proposed hospital changes. "It’s not acceptable. People need to be able to have accessibility locally to hospital services for their healthcare needs," he said, adding: "I’ll be most certainly fighting to get that decision reversed.

"On a par, will also be the steelworks. Scunthorpe is built around the steelworks and it’s just been spiralling downwards. Because of Reform scrapping net zero, all that it’s doing by adhering to it in the UK, it’s affecting jobs. People want security long-term."

He suggested "thinking outside the box" and reopening mines for iron ore and coal necessary to make virgin steel, adding it would create jobs in itself. "I don’t truly understand why these mines were closed to start with. The material is still down there, buried in the ground. Some people might say it’s the quality, we’ve got increased mining capabilities now that can sift out the poor quality," he said.

A Reform government would reduce red tape and reduce government, he said. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could then "get on and do what they do good, which is create jobs and create money".

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 - you’ve outlined Reform would scrap net zero, in that scenario, you would presumably want to keep the blast furnaces open?

"Absolutely. The materials that go into this system are all coming from abroad, why can’t it be mined here? Then there’s not the costs associated with travelling it all the way around the world."

"Getting it here will create jobs." He acknowledged Labour’s £3bn steel industry investment pledge. "But that is a government-funded job and it will come to an end. You need longevity, which is allowing SMEs to get on and do what they do best."

"It’s a sticking plaster until we can get onto something more long-term," he added of Labour's pledge. "I also think allowing international companies a controlling interest in companies here in the UK that are critical to our industries maybe shouldn’t be allowed." He suggested if it had remained British-owned, there would be less uncertainty over the steelworks.

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 - it sounds like you are completely opposed - and hospital parking charges?

"The services that are there should stay there." He added if it was about cost-cutting, which the local NHS has never suggested, he said Reform UK's manifesto focused on paring back office staff to only essential administration and management. "Anything else, the diversity managers on £50-70k a year, anyone worth their salt in management understands you can’t discriminate. Diversity - all for it, but you don’t need to pay someone that stupid amount of money that could actually be diverted to frontline doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants."

On parking charges, he said his dad died of cancer last year and he visited him in hospital. "Fortunately, I was ok for money," he said, but he did think to himself about others who may find it more difficult. "It’s got to be reasonable so that it deters people dumping their car," he said, but "not to the excessive amounts, more of a token. And if people abuse it, they leave their car in a car park and then go off to work, then they should be heavily fined."

He suggested a token charge of around £1 for two hours for visitors.

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

He said Reform was very much for the lower income people of the UK. "Because we want to lift seven million people out of paying income tax, raising the threshold of £20,000 before you start paying income tax. It just makes sense, it will incentivise people that want to work," he said, with no worry about losing money through tax.

"Let’s incentivise people, it will save money quite simply because we’re not paying out benefits," he said, claiming it would save taxpayers' money. "They will be earning a wage and no benefits are going to be paid."

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

"The night before I was going around visiting different areas and I drove through pretty much the centre of Scunthorpe. There were large groups of men on both sides of the road and I felt intimidated and I was simply driving through." He saw a lone PCSO and spoke to her, concerned.

He reported the officer said their sergeant had given discretion to decide to patrol on their own. Mr Haley related it to his time in the prison service and "safety in numbers" when opening up a wing.

"I just think it’s a recipe for disaster for community policing in inner cities, inner towns where there are large groups of people," he said of one officer on their own. "It’s about the safety of the officer and there has recently been a stabbing in Scunthorpe," he added.

Reform UK have promised to recruit 40,000 new officers he said, and again cutting non-essential back office staff.

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

"Any loss of life has to be avoided. Peaceful pathways must be travelled by world leaders. I would most certainly be taking advice and guidance from my constituents as to how they want policy to be formed from Reform UK." He also would follow Reform UK's viewpoints on how best to support peaceful pathways in conflicts like Gaza.

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

"Reform UK’s policy is equality for all. I will represent the LGBT community and raise their concerns in Parliament as long as it is conducive with equality for all."

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

"It’s multiple things, circling back to the hospital, continuing as it is, the steelworks actually securing more long-term contracts that will give more life for many years to come. With our policy of stopping immigration, we are going to be pulling out of the European Court of Human Rights and repatriating illegal immigrants.

"Hopefully, it should have a positive impact on housing and people can get onto the housing list and get a house to live. My understanding is there is a big demand for housing in Scunthorpe."