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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the July 2016 issue

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Steel production has been the mainstay of the North Lincolnshire town of Scunthorpe since the mid-19th century and after months of uncertainty about the future, it has now begun a new era and re-established its links with the past.

The British based investment firm Greybull Capital successfully completed its acquisition of Tata Steel UK’s Long Products Europe division and relaunched the iconic British Steel brand in the town.

Its first day of trading on 1st June was described by British Steel’s commercial director Peter Hogg as a landmark day for the business.

“We are delighted to have launched under the iconic British Steel brand. It has taken a huge amount of effort and a strong partnership between our employees and their union representatives, our customers and our suppliers, and many months of hard work to get to this point. We also appreciate the help and support from both local and national government and our local MPs,” he said.

“Our industry has faced challenging times over the past few years, but we are confident that our new venture, built on our core values of pride, passion and performance, will not only reinvigorate this business, but position it as a world leader.

“Our heritage is important to us. For decades our skilled workforce has dedicated itself to producing the highest quality steel that has been used in landmark buildings and infrastructure projects around the world.

“The launch of British Steel will enable us to build a stronger future for both our employees and all those who do business with us.”

The business, which employs 4,800 people, has highly regarded manufacturing operations in Scunthorpe, Teesside and Skinningrove in the UK and Hayange in France. It also includes metal centres across the UK and Ireland, a global network of sales offices, an engineering business in Workington and a national design consultancy.

Scunthorpe site multi-union chairman Paul McBean said: “The first day was a momentous occasion for us, our fellow union colleagues and all our employees and relaunching the business as British Steel was fantastic. It marked a new start and a new chapter for our business and by continuing to work together we can and will make it a success.”

Already British Steel has launched a revolutionary new rail product which can withstand the rigours of being laid in some of the most corrosive of environments.

The new product, Zinoco®, is a premium coated rail that can be installed in harsh environments where corrosion is expected to be the main cause of future rail replacement such as coastal lines, wet tunnels, level crossings, mineral lines and salt pans.

British Steel’s rail sector head, Richard Bell, said the product was developed at the business’s headquarters in Scunthorpe.

“This is an exciting time for British Steel and Zinoco® is a great example of our innovation and development of premium products for the global market place,” he said.

“We are committed to the development of innovative products to help our customers improve the whole life cost of operating their railway infrastructure and I’m sure this will be another valuable contribution to the achievement of this objective.”

Since the sale of Tata Steel to Greybull Capital the town’s principal shopping centre, The Foundry, has enjoyed a renewed interest and new developments are on the cards in the near future.

A Centre spokesman said: “There are always things happening. This year we’ve given away £1,000 and £500 in two separate competitions and we held the second annual balloon drop where someone won a P&O Ferries cruise to Europe.”

And there are promising times ahead.

“The imminent commencement of the 6,000-home Lincolnshire Lakes project will ultimately result in the creation of six new landscaped villages and 3,000 homes between Scunthorpe and the River Trent. This will have a huge and positive impact on the town and The Foundry.

“North Lincolnshire Council plans to move its headquarters into Scunthorpe town centre. The authority has announced its intention to sell off its Civic Centre on Ashby Road and six other, unnamed sites and extend the Church Square House building.

“The multi-million-pound scheme located next to The Foundry is expected to save council tax-payers £500,000 each year, through reduced running costs and more efficient working. And it would mean placing more than 400 office workers and additional visitors into the town centre by 2018.

“This, together with the opening of the University Technical College last year, will help make the town a more vibrant place during the week”

North Lincolnshire Council has also launched the £200,000 Viable and Vibrant Places Fund to support the regeneration of Scunthorpe’s town centre.

The funding will support the council’s vision for Scunthorpe and aims to make it a hub for employment, leisure, retail and recreational opportunities.

The Viable and Vibrant Places Fund aims to bring empty retail and residential properties back to use, increase access to jobs locally and further afield in North Lincolnshire.

The funding will also support landlords to improve retail properties and bring them back to use, as well as create new homes through new builds. The scheme will target investment in Scunthorpe town centre to improve the outside appearance and offer the opportunity to bring properties back into use for residential purposes.

“We are already seeing huge investments in Scunthorpe town centre with the Humber UTC that opened in September and Ongo Homes moving their head office to the town centre. This is all part of the wider plan to put Scunthorpe on the map as a place to do business and furthermore, deliver our vision.”

Planning permission has also been given for a new shopping parade and community hub in Westcliff that means work can now start on site to revive the area as part of the regeneration plans costing around £9m.

The planning application submitted by Ongo Homes sets out the regenerations plans for the Westcliff estate to create a central hub for the community that will provide a range of opportunities for people of all ages.

The community hub will include preschool provisions, a library space, flexible space to be used for the delivery of activities for young people, a wellbeing hub, meeting rooms and interview space, managed office space and a community café. Nearby there will be a park with play equipment.

The main construction phase will start in September and it is projected all work will be completed by the end of March 2018.

Ongo Homes director of Regeneration, Pete Stones said: “The planning permission being approved is a major step forward in this project. We’re really looking forward to working with our partners and the local community to turn these plans into a reality.”

WHITEGATES ESTATE AGENTS
As a result of our desire to improve our offering to clients we are relocating and investing in larger premises at 72 Mary Street, Scunthorpe. This will give you, our clients, and staff a spacious high level environment. You are more than welcome to drop in for a coffee from our in-house café.

Whitegates has had a presence in the town for over thirty years, providing a continually successful Estate Agency during that time.

We are passionate about property; property sales, property lettings, property investment advice, and now our move is further evidence of an increase in that professionalism.

Our expert team can provide you with free valuations and offer a no obligation assessment of your property. We can give excellent advice, in house selling tactics and marketing approaches, including an auction option. Please ring Zoe or Lottie on 01724 846125 to discuss.

With a long standing, well experienced professional team we are always keen to speak to landlords, investors and tenants. Our continual credit check service during the life of the tenancy is unique and we can offer a wide range of service levels including our Manage and Protect Service. We can also offer advice on investment property improvement and development. We have a continual demand for additional landlords to meet our waiting tenant list. Please call Mary, Alison or Emma on 01724 846125 to discuss.

Whitegates offer a unique high level selling and lettings service with many long-standing clients and our imminent move can only enhance this.

BATHS HALL
Scunthorpe’s premier entertainment venues have continued to go from strength to strength in the last twelve months.

The Baths Hall and The Plowright Theatre have both seen internationally renowned acts perform – from the likes of Paul Weller and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to comedians Kevin Bridges and Jimmy Carr.

And there’s lots more planned across both theatres, with Elaine Paige, The Specials, The Proclaimers and many more set to visit the town before the end of the year.

The town’s annual Christmas pantomime, starring Dame Annie Fanny, also recently had its best ever year and more than 50 per cent of tickets for 2016 have been sold before the end of April.

The Baths Hall and The Plowright Theatre marketing manager Paul Savage said: “The Baths Hall has also seen a surge in interest as a wedding venue, particularly amongst the region’s Asian community.

“The venue has seen wedding celebrations for as many as 600 people and has seen families travel from across the Yorkshire and Humber region to host their events.”

Baths Hall was a former public bath house dating from 1931. It has served as an entertainment venue since the 1970s. It was renovated and reopened in 2005 but was then closed and earmarked for demolition to make way for private housing.

However, in 2007 it was saved and rebuilt to create the modern entertainment venue it is today, though the 1931 frontage was retained.

It is now run by sports and entertainments venue operators SMG Europe, in association with North Lincolnshire Council, and from November 2011, has been known as The Baths Hall.

Its sister theatre, The Plowright Theatre, was commissioned by the former Scunthorpe Borough Council and built by J W Taylor in 1958.

Originally known as Scunthorpe Civic Theatre, it was renamed in the 1990s in recognition of the achievements of local actress Joan Plowright. She was born in Brigg, educated in Scunthorpe, and is currently the president of Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club – the club founded by her father, Bill Plowright.

NEW FOOTBALL STADIUM
Up to 700 jobs are to be created after planners gave the go-ahead for a new £25m football stadium to be built in Scunthorpe.

It will be built on the outskirts of the town as part of the £1.2b ambitious Lincolnshire Lakes development that will also see a new business park, sports lake and more than 6,000 new homes built – effectively creating five new villages.

Scunthorpe United Football Club will move from its present location at Glanford Park in Scunthorpe to a sixty-acre site on the west side of the M181, close to the main rail line.

The new football stadium will have club and executive facilities, a gym, office space and areas for commercial development, plus club venue and supporters bar.

It could be ready for the start of the 2017/18 season.

Designed by FWP Architecture, the iconic state-of-the-art stadium will cater for 12,000 fans in an all seating arena and enable the club to host international events and tournaments.

In the longer term, it is hoped to provide a new railway station to support the stadium and wider Lakes development.

The stadium will be at the centre of a new leisure hub for the Lincolnshire Lakes which includes the creation of recreational lakes that will provide a range of water-based and other sporting and leisure activities.

Leisure developments could include new artificial beaches, windsurfing, sailing, boating, outdoor swimming plus cycling and triathlon facilities.

The council has reached agreement in principle with Highways England to construct a new junction from the M181 into the stadium.

United chairman Peter Swann said: “I am delighted to be at this stage and the continued work and help by the council, in getting to this point, has been invaluable.

“We are at the beginning of a hugely exciting period for Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire, one which will help to define the area and provide some of the finest football and sports facilities in the country.

“For us the work begins in earnest and we, here at Scunthorpe United, are very proud to be involved in such an important and defining project, which will regenerate our area.”

North Lincolnshire Council leader Councillor Liz Redfern said: “The new football stadium will act as a catalyst for the whole of the Lincolnshire Lakes project and will set the scene for further development at this site.”

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