My View, Caroline Flint MP: Times change, but we still make things

Caroline Flint and Gary Evans with a rotar at Hallam Castings
Caroline Flint and Gary Evans with a rotar at Hallam Castings
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The big event on June 23 got me thinking. No – this isn’t a political column about the Referendum. But it reminds me how different the world is now from when I was 14 in 1975.

Tammy Wynette’s Stand by your Man was No1, Don Revie’s England beat Scotland 5-1 in the Home Internationals and Britain had just three TV channels.

Doncaster has seen huge changes.

In 1975, the biggest factory in town was ICI Fibres, later Dupont. A factory that produced nylon for shirts, suits, curtains and much more – now long gone. International Harvesters, another manufacturer from before WWII, was still making world-class tractors. And Doncaster still had nine working collieries. They would be cut to a handful in the Thatcher years –with no effort to create new jobs.

But Doncaster recovered – slowly. Today, ‘Made in Doncaster’ still matters.

Bridon’s ropes used on the Olympic Stadium, Polypipe products in millions of homes.

But many great firms start small. Hallam Castings in Thorne making precision aluminium components; and SAS systems in Denaby Main producing huge glazing systems.

You can see their handiwork at De Warenne Academy.

World Feeds, a local success stories among small firms, make healthy food for fish, exporting to more than 30 countries. And there are many other firms like them.

Not employing thousands, but growing.

And just a few weeks ago, work began on the HS2 rail college, which is set to train 1,700 apprentices in five years, for jobs that might last them half a lifetime.

It wasn’t all toil in the 1970s but in 1975, only five million British holidays were abroad.

Today, we take 45 million foreign holidays and Doncaster residents can fly to 40 destinations from an airport on their doorstep. The loss of an RAF base spawned a campaign to establish a major northern airport.

Some of the times have been very tough.

Big industries from the 1920s and 30s long gone, creating hardship and presenting huge challenges. But new opportunities come along and we have to make the best of them.

The airport supports more than 1,000 jobs today. The Wildlife Park has boosted tourism to Doncaster.

The iPort will generate many more jobs; and FARRRS helps people to reach beyond their village for work.

Our world is changing fast. The challenge for politicians is to help people to cope and adapt to that future. The past was not all good.

And Doncaster’s future is what we make of it.

Doncaster is open for business.