Speciality Steel: Hundreds sign petition calling for jobs in Stocksbridge and Rotherham to be 'safeguarded'

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for jobs at crisis-hit Speciality Steel in Stocksbridge to be safeguarded.

Monday, 14th February 2022, 4:56 pm
Updated Monday, 14th February 2022, 4:56 pm

HMRC has applied for a winding-up petition - an application to a court to close down a company - over unpaid debts believed to be in the region of £25million.

An online petition to safeguard jobs at Speciality Steel, a division of Liberty Steel which also has a plant in Rotherham, has now been signed by almost 2,000 people, as uncertainty over the firm’s future continues.

The petition states: “Families across Stocksbridge and the surrounding area rely on these jobs and their loss would be a disaster for the area. Stocksbridge has a long tradition of steel production that is part of its identity.

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Liberty Speciality Steels, Stocksbridge. Picture: Chris Etchells

“We want to make it clear, to those in positions of power, the strength of feeling within the local community that Stocksbridge Speciality Steel and the jobs it brings must be safeguarded.”

Marie Tidball is among the hundreds of people who have signed the petition so far.

She said: “The steelworks have been the beating heart of the local community and economy since the 1840s. Steel runs in people's veins and is woven into people's histories.

­­­­”Finding out that HMRC is planning to pull the plug on Liberty Steel, which owns the Stocksbridge plant is heart-breaking. 750 people will lose their jobs.

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“These steelworks should be part of our future: they are essential to delivering net zero and driving green steel solutions.”

The petition was first launched around a year ago, but has recently begun to gain traction online, following news of the winding-up petition.

A Liberty spokesman has previously said the debts were ‘deferred from Covid’ when pandemic shut-downs damaged trade.

Reports suggest Speciality Steel UK Limited, which employs about 2,000 in Rotherham and Stocksbridge, Liberty Pipes, Liberty Performance Steels and Liberty Merchant Bar all have petitions against them.

The winding up petitions are expected to be heard late next month, according to Sky News. If a winding-up order is issued, bank accounts are usually frozen and assets or property will be sold by the official receiver.

Last week, trade unions GMB, Unite and Community issued a statement, urging steel bosses to get back round the table with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and ‘hammer out a deal’.

The statement said: “This action by HMRC threatens thousands of jobs and is a devastating blow to our members and their families.

“The trade unions call on GFG - Liberty’s parent company - and HMRC to get back round the table and hammer out a deal that provides space for the company to refinance.

“The best route to protect jobs and repay HMRC and other creditors would be to enable the business to continue to trade,” the statement said.