Centre closure puts 135 jobs under threat

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A steel research and development centre in Rotherham is to be shut - with 135 staff being offered new jobs in Coventry.

The facility, run by Tata Steel, is to be relocated at a new base at the University of Warwick.

The Indian multi-national announced in March that the Swinden Technology Centre could possibly move, when it was awarded £8 million by the Government for research.

The money is to be targeted at developing next generation steels for cars, aircraft, rail networks, skyscrapers, mining equipment and power stations.

A union spokesman said it was likely a lot of workers would not want to move to Coventry, which was of ‘extreme concern’.

Steve McCool, from union Community, which represents about half of the workers at the centre, said: “We cannot afford to lose skills these people have.

“The value they add - it’s an old industry and the skills have been gleaned over many, many years.”

But the steel giant said it had only recently signed contracts to move to the university based near Coventry and the relocation would not happen overnight, perhaps taking up to two years.

Scientists and engineers at the new base will carry out research into several areas including renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The firm already funds three professors at the university who look at aerospace and automotive issues.

Deciding to base its new research and development centre there was like ‘formalising’ Tata’s connection with the university, the company spokesman said.

The new base would run alongside Warwick’s own £100 million Advanced Steel Research Centre, the university confirmed.

The two new centres would provide ‘a critical mass of research excellence’, a spokesman said.