Sunnier prospects for steel town
In the north Lincolnshire town of Scunthorpe, Melanie Burton finds there is much to look forward to, with ambitious plans in the pipeline to help the economy grow, support businesses and increase skills in the area.
It will also benefit from a new up-to-date indoor market, housing developments, new jobs and a direct train service to London. And with its college being ranked among the best in the country for achievement of further education courses and apprentices, the future is looking good.
North Lincolnshire Council has created a Skills and Employability Plan which sets out its high-level ambitions to upskill residents and increase employment and income opportunities across the area.
These ambitions will help achieve its overarching strategy to increase prosperity for people and North Lincolnshire as a place.
The aim of the plan is, by 2038, to have a more highly skilled workforce, in higher paid jobs and full employment for those of working age in North Lincolnshire.
Councillor Rob Waltham, Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “The plan is designed to help those who require additional support to move into work or develop the skills they need to access better paid employment. Your first career choice does not have to be your last, careers and skills should evolve and so should your income level.
“To be able to secure better paid work we will make sure skills training and employment opportunities are more accessible and ensure residents and businesses know where they can find the information they need.
“We recognise that skills underpin many of the Government’s ambitions around increasing productivity, growing the economy and supporting businesses. The plan strongly supports Government objectives around growing the apprenticeship offer, technical education and higher level and specialised skills.
“North Lincolnshire has huge potential and we are continuing to deliver the best possible employment market for local people. We are working hard to attract investors to the area and provide more employment opportunities.”
The Skills and Employability Plan was launched at Clugston Group. Managing director Steve Radcliffe said: “At Clugston we certainly recognise the importance of bringing new people into the business and giving them employment opportunities; we have got a fantastic track record in doing that.
“We’ve got people who have worked here ever since they left school over thirty years ago, which is a great legacy for our company. We would be delighted to continue that with the new apprentices and anyone else we employ.”
The Skills and Employability Plan forms part of wider plans to contribute to increasing prosperity in North Lincolnshire including visitor economy, housing, economic growth and infrastructure.
Preparations are well underway for a new indoor market in the former BHS building in the town. Traders are being invited to apply for stalls and have had the opportunity to look around the new premises and comment on the initial design.
As part of the ongoing consultation process members of the public will also get the opportunity to view the design later this summer.
The plan is to transform the market by creating a food court with street food and a café culture feel to it. The success of the continental food market in the town has demonstrated how this can draw in new visitors and it is hoped to replicate this ambience in the new facility.
The former BHS building is right next to the bus station and the Parishes multi-storey car park, providing ample parking for those visiting the market and town centre.
Councillor Waltham said: “Scunthorpe Market is a focal point for the town. The new market plans are part of our vision to regenerate Scunthorpe and bring people into the town centre.
“As well as shoppers’ favourite stalls, creating this new market gives us the opportunity to extend the market offer and be open to new market traders looking to launch or expand in Scunthorpe.”
He said the council’s aim was to provide a new, vibrant indoor market that is in the heart of the town and in a much more central location.
“The intention is for the new market to widen the product range currently available, to attract more visitors and shoppers to the town by offering quality products at affordable prices,” he explained. “There’s also the bonus of having ample and free parking.
“The new market is already attracting interest from new and existing traders and we have received interest from group travel organisers wanting to run coach trips to our area that will take in the new market, so this is a real positive sign.
“It’s going to be fantastic and will breathe a new lease of life into the town, as part of our ongoing £60m regeneration plans for the town centre.”
“We’re continuing to speak to traders throughout this process, and we’re keen to hear from residents too, to make sure we create a bright and vibrant new market that works for everybody.”
It is hoped the new site will be ready to open by February next year.
Councillor Waltham added: “We are hoping we will have between 60 and 70 independent businesses, all functioning, employing people and improving the shopping experience.”
It is all part of a £60m plus investment to transform the town, which aims to be completed by 2022 and will create more than 200 jobs, around 1,500 student places and put £1.5m into the local economy.
The transformation projects aim to increase the number of people and businesses in the town particularly in the Church Square area and include £4m improvements to make the town look more attractive, and road and pedestrian improvements to create better access.
Moves are also being made to introduce a direct train service from Scunthorpe to London, which is felt will provide a significant boost to the local economy. Working with Grand Central trains, North Lincolnshire Council is seeking public opinion on the plan.
That coupled with the fact that the town’s North Lindsey College has been ranked among the best in the country for achievement of further education courses and apprenticeships, is all helping to get Scunthorpe’s name known far and wide.
A report compiled by RCU in partnership with the Association of Colleges uses information from the National Achievement rate tables and Key Stage 5 performance tables to rank colleges.
The report also demonstrates that students re-sitting English and maths make substantial progress, ranking the college in the top 20 per cent for maths and top 10 per cent for English.
Affordable housing is key to attracting people to come to an area to live, work and study and a joint initiative between North Lincolnshire Council, the government and local housing provider Ongo Homes is aiming to do just that.
Preparations are underway for the first phase of a £25m project to create around 240 homes in Scunthorpe – part of the Accelerated Housing Partnership scheme that aims to enable more people to get on the property ladder, create jobs and meet housing demands locally.
Worth around £5m, phase 1 includes 24 new homes on a former primary school site on Frodingham Road and 14 homes on the site of the former Ashby Institute car park.
A mix of two, three and four bed homes are planned and all will incorporate an element of affordable housing, private parking and private gardens.
LOVE SHOPPING WITH OLDRIDS DEPARTMENT STORE SCUNTHORPE
Now into the second year of trading, Oldrids Department Store Scunthorpe continues to serve the town’s customers with a plethora of products and brilliant brands…
Situated in the town centre of Scunthorpe, the department store brings you three floors of your favourite brands. The expansion of Oldrids & Downtown was a decision well received by the local people of Scunthorpe. An independent retailer providing choice, accompanied by first class customer service – could you ask for more?
The ground floor features names such as Radley, Joules, Superdry and Joe Browns. Bags, jewellery, beauty and fragrances – a floor for those of you who struggle to buy for your mothers, daughters, girlfriends, wives and grandmothers. Seasalt, White Stuff, Dorothy Perkins and Barbour are just a few more of the brands available for a spot of retail therapy. And for those of you who are planning a summer getaway, Co-operative Travel will help you choose the perfect place, providing you with ultimate pleasure.
As you travel up the escalators, the first floor brings you fashion brands such as Duck & Cover, Burton, Jack & Jones, Superdry and Viz a Viz – all names synonymous with quality and desirability. There’s also something for the children with over 8,000 toys in stock. There is also a great selection of luggage, perfect for those summer holidays – Oldrids Scunthorpe have got you all covered.
And finally, the second floor brings you over 3,000 sq ft of furniture, ranging from occasional pieces to dining sets and suites. There’s also a great range of small domestic appliances and home interiors, perfect for proud homeowners. The Cookshop supplies you with the greatest of crockery and cutlery whilst the Bathshop offers you the best of towels and bathmats. If you fancy a quick catch-up with friends and family or even a break from shopping, Café Culture does just the job by satisfying your stomachs with scrumptious sandwiches, homemade hot meals and afternoon teas!
Love Shopping. Love Brands. Love Lincolnshire. Love Oldrids & Downtown.
BRITISH STEEL SUPPORT FUND
Steel production has been the mainstay of Scunthorpe since the mid-nineteenth century and it is now well and truly back at the forefront, following the relaunch of the British Steel brand.
But back in 2015 the future looked uncertain following redundancy announcements, so a taskforce was set up to support steelworkers and supply chain businesses.
This was followed by a £3m support fund being launched in February 2016 to help businesses within the British Steel supply chain and other local businesses create and safeguard jobs.
Now called the British Steel Support Fund, it has helped numerous businesses expand, the latest one being New Holland Extraction Ltd – a specialist in the production of niche market seed oils by cold pressing and solvent extraction.
It has invested more than £1 million at its site following a £75,000 grant from the British Steel Support Fund, creating five new jobs into the bargain.
A 2,000 sqm extension to their existing warehouse will house new machinery and enable the effective control and segregation of products as required by Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.
The five jobs created through the venture are required to support the company’s ambition to supply oils of pharmaceutical standard and existing staff are also being retrained and will be placed in more skilled positions, in which they will be operating to GMP standards.
Grant Forbes, general manager said: “We work with people from a range of diverse industries including specialists supplying the food and cosmetics sectors, ingredient manufacturers, producers of specially formulated animal feeds and companies working on R&D developing businesses in sustainable industries.
“This investment will allow us to register a number of niche market oils for pharmaceutical applications and continue our exploration into new markets which is something that we continually endeavour to pursue. Whilst we already have a unique position in Europe, this will be strengthened.
“This investment will build upon the success of our expansion in 2014, which was supported by a £200,000 grant from the Regional Growth Fund, an expansion which created eight new roles.
“Our new warehouse facility has been supported by a £75,000 grant from the British Steel Support fund administered by North Lincolnshire Council. This funding has helped progress our project and will help us fulfil our ambition to become a supplier of pharmaceutical products considerably earlier than we originally believed possible.”
The British Steel Support Fund has so far granted more than £2 million to local businesses to support their development and create jobs.
“Together with local businesses we’re spreading the word that North Lincolnshire and the wider region has a lot to shout about,” said council leader Rob Waltham.
“More businesses are now recognising that the area offers a significant competitive advantage from the outset – our fantastic location, first class workforce, and competitive land and property prices presents an ideal place for potential investors.”
DIRECT TRAIN SERVICE
Scunthorpe’s local economy and businesses in the town could be boosted if plans for a direct train service to London comes to fruition.
Grand Central Rail has made an application to the Rail Regulator for access to the line from North Lincolnshire to London – a proposal which would see trains from London travel through Doncaster to North Lincolnshire towns including Scunthorpe.
Public opinion has been sought by North Lincolnshire Council and the survey will form part of the business case to detail the level of demand among residents and the business community.
Liam Smallwood, marketing and PR assistant for Grand Central Rail, said: “Our plans for the proposed service are still under development and we are continuing to work with various stakeholders to ensure our application has the best chance of success.”
North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham, who is also a board member of Transport for the North – England’s first sub-national Transport Body with statutory powers, said: “Direct trains from North Lincolnshire to London would provide a significant boost to our local economy.
“North Lincolnshire already enjoys great rail connectivity with northern cities and to the south via Doncaster. But a direct London service would give another reason for businesses to set up or relocate here and increase opportunities for leisure travel.”