It’s a terrible coincidence that, on the thirtieth anniversary of the miners’ strike, we should be hearing about the threat to Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire with the jobs of 600 miners at risk, with Kellingley pit in North Yorkshire also facing closure, affecting 700 miners and their families.
David Cameron has said he will do everything he can to safeguard jobs at the mines.
It is clear that is not the case.
The National Union of Mineworkers is calling for the government to provide State Aid to help keep the mines open until 2018. However, the Department for Energy & Climate Change has said that EU rules prevent them from offering State Aid to keep the mines open.
But, quite simply, they don’t.
My colleague Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire, arranged for representatives from the mining trade unions and the TUC to meet the European Commission last Wednesday.
The Commission Director for State Aid was very clear. There is no reason that the UK Government cannot offer State Aid in this case.
And it was made absolutely clear that the Commission was ready and willing to work with the UK Government to find a solution to safeguard the 2,000 jobs.
DECC have said they cannot offer State Aid for 2 reasons:
First, their legal advice says they cannot give State Aid to mines that didn’t receive it in 2010. The Commission says this isn’t true and they will write to DECC to clarify the situation.
Second, they say there is not enough time to provide State Aid as UK Coal needs the money within 2 weeks. The Commission says they will do everything they can to fast track an application for State Aid, and also clarified that the mines could still receive State Aid at a later date, even if they accept the commercial loan package that the government is currently offering.
It beggars belief that our Tory-led Government can pretend that the EU is preventing a solution when the European Commission is clearly doing all it can to help, and would do more if asked.
As the MEP for the 600 miners affected at Thoresby, I am appalled and disgusted at the Government’s clear betrayal of Nottinghamshire’s last pit.
As the daughter of a miner, “appalled and disgusted” are not strong enough words for how I feel.