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Too late for Redcar but British Steelmaking must have a future

Anna and fellow steel MPs publish plan to save remaining steel industry from ‘perpetual decline’

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It is 15 months since our community was shattered by the hard closure of our steelworks. A huge blow to our area and to thousands of families employed directly or indirectly at the site.

The government had taken their eye off the ball despite steel producers and MPs warning for months that problems in the industry needed addressing. When the crisis hit they were caught on the hoof and didn’t react in time to save SSI in Redcar.

We campaigned hard to get the Government to fund a mothballing to protect the assets and allow the site to reopen in future. They refused and the blast furnace and coke ovens are now beyond repair.

Our main steelworks may have gone but the steel industry still has a stake in Teesside.

- Important elements of the steel industry continue to operate at Lackenby and Skinningrove, now under the ownership of British Steel.

- We also have the Materials Processing Institute at South Bank leading cutting edge research on future steel technology.

- There are opportunities for us to develop other steel projects on Teesside, such as with steel recycling.

So steel continues to be one of Teesside’s strengths which means the crisis that still embroils the industry needs tackling.

When you elected me 18 months ago I joined the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal Related Industries in order to champion the needs of steel.

Over the past six months we have been running our own inquiry into what needs to be done to save the steel industry across the UK and allow it to grow. We took evidence from industry chiefs, unions, workers and other experts and have worked with the University of Leeds Business School to compile a report. We published that report today with some key recommendations for the Government to take on board.

This report is about saying steel is a modern, hi-tech, vital industry to the British economy and British manufacturing.

Steel has a bright future in this country, it supports vital industries and it’s crucial to the economic development and success of this country.

The Government has got to have a proper, long-term strategy for it, not just lurch from one crisis to another. But if you don’t have a strategy and vision for steel, it will be lost for good.

Britain needs its own steel plants as political uncertainty grips the globe. We need to be more self-reliant so having our own steel industry is absolutely crucial.

This is also about making sure that other areas do not have to suffer the same fate we did. Saving the thousands of jobs that remain in the industry and making sure they stay for the long term.

The Government’s announcement on an industrial strategy today suggests they are finally starting to get it. Moving forward, in Parliament we will be making sure our proposals for steel are given proper consideration.

Doing nothing would leave the industry to shrink further and further. We cannot and will not allow that to happen.

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