Former coalfield areas still suffering aftermath of miners’ strike

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Children in former coalfield areas are still being ‘plagued’ by the miners’ strike, 30 years after the bitter dispute ended, according to research.

A study in Derbyshire found that educational aspirations are being affected amid a feeling that ‘school is not for us’.

Researcher Geoff Bright said communities that relied on the coal industry are still socially ‘haunted’ by the strike.

The report was published on the 30th anniversary of a vote by the executive of the National Union of Mineworkers to end the strike, which started over pit closures.

Dr Bright said: “The educational aspirations of kids from former mining towns are still being affected by the positioning of those communities as ‘the enemy within’ by the prime minister of the time, Margaret Thatcher. It’s hard to see that you have a stake in things when your family and community have been positioned like that.

“In 1984, the southern part of Yorkshire around Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham employed 40,000 mineworkers. Tens of thousands were also employed in associated industries. The industry has, to all intents and purposes, gone. But an unseen price is still being paid.”

“Traumatic community experience of protracted conflict and widespread heavy policing, followed by a whole period of economic decline, can affect young people in ways that are akin to a kind of haunting.”

There were 170 collieries at the start of the dispute. Just three remain today, including one in Hatfield, Doncaster.

The miners’ strike started in Yorkshire in early March 1984 and within days half the country’s mineworkers had walked out in protest at pit closures.

Most of the UK’s 190,000 miners were soon embroiled in a daily routine of picketing outside collieries, most of which had ground to a halt.

The NUM executive voted to return to work on March 3 1985, with most miners going back two days later.