Tata: Port Talbot businesses sign letter calling on government to save town’s steel industry

  • ITV Wales Cost of Living correspondent Carole Green was in Port Talbot. Words by ITV reporter Beth Thomas.

Over 130 Port Talbot businesses, community groups, sports and social clubs have signed an open letter calling on the government to save the town’s steel industry.

Representatives from across the community will meet at Aberavon Green Stars Rugby Club to sign a giant version of the letter on Wednesday evening.

It calls on politicians to commit to securing a long-term future for the steel industry by changing procurement rules to let UK public contracts use 100 per cent UK steel and committing to public investment for a Steelworkers’ Transition Plan.

The open letter calls on politicians to commit to securing a long-term future for the steel industry

Among those who have signed the letter are Afan United Football Club. Remi Whitelock, from the club, said: "We’re kicking against these proposed job losses. The impact on the community here in Port Talbot would be devastating.

"Everyone involved in this club is involved in steel somehow – players, coaches, staff, fans – we either work there or have friends or family there.

"The government needs to act: stop the jobs cuts, invest properly in the future of steel production and invest in the future of the community here in Port Talbot.”

Gavin John, owner of Afan Ales & Fine Wines - who also signed the letter - said: “If thousands of jobs go at the steel works it will be a sledgehammer to local businesses in Port Talbot – way beyond the steel industry.

"It’s already tough out there for small businesses like us. We need to stop the proposed job cuts and look again. Proper investment in clean steel could help secure the future for local businesses and really make this place.”

The letter in full

The letter, signed by businesses and community groups, states: "We are a coalition of local businesses, community groups, sports and social clubs in Port Talbot speaking up together in support of our steel industry and its workers.

"Port Talbot’s steel industry is a hugely important employer, providing quality jobs for local people. Its future represents the future of our community and businesses. That future is now uncertain.

"For too long the UK steel industry has suffered from patchy investment and short-term vision.       

"Our politicians, of all stripes, need to stand up and commit to securing a long-term future for the industry before steel communities like ours suffer the same fate as mining and industrial communities did in the 1980s.

Over 130 businesses, community groups, and clubs from the Port Talbot community signed the letter Credit: ITV Wales

"Back then, the government sat idly by and allowed communities to suffer. They can’t be allowed to do the same again. Instead, they should commit to the investment needed to make the UK a European leader in green steel and secure the jobs that our community relies on.

"For communities to thrive they need decent jobs. It is the role of government to ensure that communities have a secure future. Our politicians should commit to:

  • Change procurement rules to let UK public contracts use 100 per cent UK steel. This alone can create thousands of jobs.

  • Public investment for a Steelworkers’ Transition Plan with NO loss of jobs. Phased workers’ transition to Green Steel – while doubling capacity to rebuild our industry and grow jobs."

Unite is calling on politicians to "act now" at what it describes as a "crunch time for steel" and the future of the town. Credit: ITV Wales

Commenting on the letter, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "The businesses and communities of Port Talbot know that is crunch time for steel and for the future of their town. They are joining with Unite in their droves to call on our politicians to act now.

"The government’s current plans for the industry are an abysmal failure that will result in the loss of countless jobs and the decimation of an industry vital to both the communities it supports and the UK’s economic success.

"Unite and the people of Port Talbot will not rest until politicians make the right choices. Steel production in the UK can have a bright future – it's time to save our steel."

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