Lord Heseltine Appointment To Tees Investment Body Is Yet Another PR Stunt From BIS As Teesside Reels From Job Losses
The 1,700 job lost at Redcar steel works and 700 job losses at Air Products TV2 site was followed by another devastating blow of 360 jobs going at Boulby potash mine says GMB.
GMB, the union for steel, construction engineering and potash mine workers, commented on the announcement that Government has appointed Lord Michael Heseltine to chair a new inward investment programme for the Tees Valley following the closure of the SSI steelworks in Redcar and on other job losses. See notes to editors for copy of the BIS announcement and the Press Association report on 369 job cuts at Boulby potash mine in East Cleveland.
Michael Blench, GMB Regional Officer, said “We have had a series of devastating blows on the jobs front on Teesside. The 1,700 job losses at Redcar steel works and the 700 job losses at Air Products TV2 site was followed by yesterday’s devastating blow of 360 jobs to go at Boulby potash mine.
For Lord Heseltine to be parachuted in to the North by the Minister for the North James Wharton is an insult. Just a couple of weeks ago it was Lord Heseltine who said insensitively that it was as good a time as any for UK steelworkers to lose their jobs. It is alright for the inhabitants of rich parliamentary ivory towers to say that.
In the real world Tory policy is creating a Northern Poor House. We have work being given to the Far East, from the Tees to the Tyne.
The fact is our manufacturing skills are second to none. A Department for British Industry and a Government for British Industry would understand that.
Lord Heseltine adds no value to the debate about the Northern Region's future and his appointment is yet another PR stunt."
Contact: Michael Blench 07870 176748 or Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or GMB 0191 233 3930 or GMB press office 07921 289880.
Notes to editors
1 copy of BIS press release dated 13 November 2015
HESELTINE APPOINTED TO LEAD TEES VALLEY INVESTMENT PROGRAMME
The Government has appointed Lord Michael Heseltine to chair a new inward investment programme for the Tees Valley, following the closure of the SSI steelworks in Redcar.
This Tees Valley Inward Investment Initiative will work to boost growth and create jobs across the region, supporting existing local plans. It will have a specific remit to attract foreign investment and boost the region’s international profile.
Lord Heseltine will be in the region on Monday with Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton. Together, they will meet the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, and the regional director for UK Trade & Investment.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“The closure of the SSI Steelworks plant was a huge blow to local people. On top of the up to £80 million package of direct support, we are determined to do all we can to secure long-term growth for the area and people of Teesside.
“Michael has a record of getting things done. He has a wealth of experience of working closely with local communities, business acumen and passion for investment and regeneration, and it’s a real coup he’s agreed to take on this job.”
Lord Heseltine said:
“It is a great honour to be asked to help with the Government response to the sad events in the steel industry in Teesside. I look forward to joining James Wharton, the local MP and Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, in Teesside to meet those engaged in a number of local initiatives and determine how I can support their activities.”
In this new role, Lord Heseltine will work closely with UK Trade and Investment, the Tees Valley Unlimited LEP and the local Redcar SSI Taskforce to oversee negotiations with potential investors, maximise these opportunities and speed up their delivery.
Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton said:
“The closure of SSI has been extremely difficult for the local community, in Redcar and in the wider Tees Valley.
“So I’m pleased to be working with Lord Heseltine, who will bring his wealth of experience to bear to attract investment opportunities and new jobs for local people.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine is currently an adviser to the Government on Local Growth following his 2013 report ‘No Stone Unturned’.
Lord Heseltine’s appointment as chair of the Tees Valley Inward Investment Initiative follows the recent signing of an historic agreement to devolve power from Whitehall to the Tees Valley.
A new Investment Fund of £15million a year over the next 30 years;
The power, if they have the support of the business community, to raise business rates to help fund new infrastructure; and
Responsibility for a devolved approach to business support from 2017, to be developed in partnership with Government
Voters will choose a directly-elected Mayor in 2017, who will take on a raft of new powers.
This follows a package of Government support of up to £80 million, including funding for affected SSI workers to train at local further education colleges, tailored support through JobCentre Plus offices and finance to assist workers if they want to start their own businesses.
Notes to editors:
1. Read more about the Government’s package of support worth up to £80 million for Redcar here
2. The devolution deal with Tees Valley was announced on 23 October – details can be found here
3. Lord Heseltine is a former Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Industry. He is currently based at the Department for Communities and Local Government as a Government adviser on Local Growth to Communities Secretary Greg Clark, and was the author of “No Stone Unturned: in the pursuit of growth”, which gave recommendations for strengthening local economic growth
2 Copy of story on Press Association dated 12th November 2015.
Hundreds of jobs axed at UK's only potash
By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent
Hundreds of jobs are to be lost at the country's only potash mine.
ICL said it had started consultations on 220 job cuts at its Boulby potash mine in East Cleveland as well as 140 contractors.
The company unveiled a "significant restructuring" of its operations, including moving from producing potash to Polysulphate fertiliser.
Peter Smith, executive vice president, said the restructuring, although "painful", was vital to secure the future of ICL UK as a viable business.
"In recent months we encountered geological problems which have affected previously high-yielding areas of the mine.
"In addition, our exploration programme, validated by independent consultants, confirmed further geological difficulties, which means that we have only a very limited level of economically feasible potash reserves."
The announcement is the third jobs blow to hit the region in recent weeks.
The SSI steelworks at Redcar closed last month with the loss of 2,200 jobs, while construction of a new renewable energy plant in the Tees Valley has been temporarily suspended, affecting 700 workers.
Mr Smith said: "The reality of our potash reserves running out by 2018 means that we must develop a new business strategy if we are to continue mining at Boulby.
"That strategy is based on moving our focus to Polysulphate production. We are in a strong position as the only producer of Polysulphate, and based on initial market acceptance of the product, ICL is prepared to invest significant resources in developing new global markets for Polysulphate.
"We understand that proposals for staffing reductions will cause concerns for employees and their families, as well as the wider community in East Cleveland. We have today begun a redundancy consultation exercise with the recognised trade unions including GMB.
"During that process we will examine how we can achieve the changes needed to ensure the company's future with the least impact on staff. No decisions will be finalised until the consultation with the trade unions has been completed.
"Boulby has played a major part in the economy of the area for a long time and has supplied its products to customers across the world.
"The process we are now embarking upon, although difficult and challenging, is aimed at ensuring that it will continue to be a major force in the local community and a supplier of world-class fertiliser products for many years to come."
Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, said: "I am really saddened to hear about the job losses.
"This is yet another blow to the community, who have already been subjected to thousands of job losses from the closure of SSI in Redcar in the last few weeks.
"My thoughts are with the miners and their families who have been affected by today's announcement.
"I will be supporting my colleague Tom Blenkinsop MP on Monday when he will be seeking an urgent question regarding the crisis the industry in Teesside is facing."
Unite regional officer Tim Bush said: "This is another serious hammer blow to employment in the north east, following on from the loss of 2,200 jobs at the Redcar steel plant. The region is already an area of high unemployment, which seems to be have been forgotten by government.
"We are meeting the company tomorrow to ask for the rationale for the job losses which will affect miners, process workers and engineering staff.
"We understand that ICL will be investing heavily in the Polysulphate product, so we want to know why this entails the job losses announced today, especially as the Boulby mine is the world's only producer of the new product, with a target of a million tonnes a year by 2020.
"We will be seeking to mitigate the number of job losses and will be strongly supporting our members in the days and weeks ahead. It is disastrous news for the workforce, their families and the regional economy."
Business Minister Anna Soubry said: "This is deeply disappointing news for Cleveland Potash workers and their families. The company has said it is to begin a formal consultation with the unions before any final decision is made.
"Government stands ready to provide support through Job Centre Plus' Rapid Response Service to help all affected workers. We will work closely with the company to see what can be done to limit the impact on staff during what remains a challenging time for the Tees Valley."