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Government under fire as Redcar coke ovens and blast furnace to shut

The coke ovens and blast furnace at SSI steel works plant in Redcar, Teesside, are to close, as no viable offers have been put forward by potential buyers, the firm's official receiver has said.

The government has come under fire from MPs, local councillors and union leaders, who accuse ministers of failing to act to save the plant.

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Unions join chorus of criticism of government over Redcar

Union leaders have joined the chorus of criticism directed towards the government after the official receiver for the SSI steel works plant in Redcar announced the closure of the blast furnace and coke ovens.

The coke ovens at SSI in Redcar, pictured open and operating in 2012, will close Credit: Reuters

Steel union Community's general secretary Roy Rickhuss said it was "devastating news".

The government must now step in, take the plant into temporary public ownership, and protect and preserve these vital industrial assets.

Keeping the coke ovens running and mothballing the blast furnace effectively would give Teesside steel the chance of a future.

A hard closure will just leave a community devastated and taxpayers picking up the cost of cleaning the site.

– Roy Rickhuss, Community

And Unite national officer Harish Patel warned of the potential impact on the local economy.

The hope of a buyer stepping in has been cruelly extinguished by the liquidator's haste and the government's refusal to step in and buy more coal to keep the coke ovens alight.

It is devastating news for all those whose livelihoods depend on steel making on Teesside and the hopes of a community who thought that an alternative solution could be found.

The light on steelmaking on Teesside has been snuffed out by the government's laissez faire approach which sets a dangerous precedent for an industry battling to stay afloat in the face of cheap Chinese imports and high energy costs.

We would urge the Government to change its stance, to intervene and support Redcar and the UK steel industry, so that British industry can take advantage of major projects, such as HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse.

– Harish Patel, Unite

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