Labour Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds hails importance of UK steel on visit to Hartlepool's Liberty Steel plant
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor said UK steel was ‘critical’ to the nation’s industrial future on a visit to Hartlepool’s Liberty Steel plant.
Anneliese Dodds spoke to workers at the pipe mill on Brenda Road on Friday, April 9, along with Labour by-election candidate Dr Paul Williams.
Fears for the future of Liberty Steel and its 5,000 UK workers have been caused by a fall in demand due to Covid and collapse of its main financial backer Greensill Capital.
The Government has previously rejected an appeal by Liberty’s parent company, GFG Alliance, for a £170 million bailout amid concerns its ‘opaque’ structures.
Ms Dodds accused the Government of neglecting the steel industry over the last decade and failing to provide adequate reassurance to Liberty Steel workers.
She said: “It’s been a fascinating visit with Dr Paul Williams talking to a lot of people who work at the plant.
"It’s really impressive how passionate they are about their work. There’s world beating technology on display here.”
She urged the Government to do whatever it takes to protect Liberty Steel jobs. Around 250 people work at the Hartlepool site.
Boris Johnson has said he is “very hopeful” a solution can be found while the firm’s owner Sanjeev Gupta insisted none of its plants would be shut “under my watch”.
Ms Dodds said: “My biggest concern is that the workers are not being backed by the Government during this difficult period.
"We’ve had ten years without a strategy for UK steel. The Government has got to do whatever it takes to maintain that UK steel capacity.”
Labour said steel and metal production in Hartlepool dropped by 10% over the last decade and has hit the town’s economy by £16 million in real terms since 2010.
Ms Dodds said the Government ought to use more UK produced steel for government infrastructure projects saying 24p in every pound went abroad in 2018/19, according to latest available figures.
She added: “We recognise steel as a critical element of our industrial future. Labour would stand up for our steelmakers with a proper industrial strategy, support the industry to decarbonise and introduce stronger targets to buy British steel."