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


MP: Redcar closure 'breathtaking industrial vandalism'

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald has labelled the Redcar steel works announcement an "absolute and utter disaster", accusing the government of "breathtaking industrial vandalism."

MP Andy McDonald called the closure an 'absolute and utter disaster' Credit: PA

In a blog published to his website, the Labour MP said ministers had been "asleep at the wheel", claiming the collapse should have been on the government's radar a long time ago.

All the signs have been there for many months. Principally the dumping of vast quantities of steel by China on the world market and, despite slowing growth in China, their own steel consumption had failed to keep pace with the growth in production made it abundantly clear that there were major problems ahead.

This has been known in the industry for years and has put enormous pressure on the UK steel industry.

– Andy McDonald

It comes after local council leader Sue Jeffery also lashed out at the government's response, accusing them of "allowing" the closures by failing to act.

Closure of SSI coke ovens & furnace 'worst possible news'

The closure of the coke ovens and blast furnace at SSI steel works in Redcar is the "worst possible news", local council leaders have said.

The closure of the coke ovens and furnace was announced today Credit: PA

Hitting out at the government for not doing more, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader Sue Jeffrey said hearing the news was "an absolutely heartbreaking moment".

Our proud history of years of steelmaking has been torn out from under us.

We have been so proud of our heritage and I cannot believe it has slipped away in the space of a few weeks.

So many people have been affected by the closure - the steelworkers and their families, the supply chain and the wider economic impact this will have on our local area. It is devastating.

– Sue Jeffrey, council leader

The council will do "everything possible" to help those affected, she added. She also accused the government of inaction, allowing the closures to happen by not intervening sooner - and said the £80 million package of measures offered was "simply not enough".

" We now need to look at if the hard closure takes place as has been indicated, how we look to secure the site for the future and bring it back to contributing towards the economy in Redcar," she said.

'No viable offers' to save Redcar steelworks plant

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.

SSI was wound up by the High Court in Manchester on 2 October 2015 at the company’s request, and receiver Ken Beasley was appointed by the court.

SSI was wound up at the start of October Credit: PA

Since then, Mr Beasley has maintained the site to ensure it remains safe while discussions with potential buyers took place, as he said SSI had "substantial debts" and no funds to purchase teh coal necessary to keep the ovens operational.

But in a statement today, he said he could no longer justify using public money to keep the site open.

There is no realistic prospect of a buyer being found and the priority now is to close the ovens down safely.

I cannot continue to draw on taxpayers funds to keep the ovens operational when there is no realistic prospect that a buyer will be found.

I am continuing my liquidation of the company, including talking with interested parties about purchasing the company’s other assets.

– Ken Beasley, official receiver

Some staff will be kept on while the site shuts down, he added, but said the number "will decline" as this progresses.


Redcar workers 'innocent victims' of steelworks closure

The Government has pledged £80 million to help Redcar and the steel workers who lost their jobs when the SSI plant closed.

The news came after thai firm which owned the steel work plant on Teesside, announced on Friday it was going into liquidation.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the money would help the employees who were the "innocent victims" in the company's collapse.

ITN News Scotland correspondent Debi Edward reports:

Redcar steelworks in Teesside to go into liquidation

The plant is set to close after more than 100 years of steel making. Credit: PA

Thai firm SSI, owners of the Redcar steelworks, is to go into liquidatio.

Sources told the Press Association that the board had applied to wind up the Teesside business, with a formal announcement being made later today.

The move followed a Government has announcement of an £80 million package to support workers who have lost their jobs at the huge steel plant.

A steel summit will be held on October 16, involving steel companies, MPs, unions and governments to discuss the future of the industry

Government pledges £80m to support SSI steel workers

The Government has announced an £80 million package to support workers who have lost their jobs at a huge steel plant in Teesside.

Around 1,700 jobs are being axed at the Redcar site after Thai owner SSI announced it was mothballing iron and steelmaking.

The money includes funding for workers to train at local further education colleges and to help them start up their own business.

Chancellor George Osborne said the support package would help make sure Teesside is "growing and strong in the future".

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