Sheffield Labour politicians have called on the Government to do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the region’s steel industry.
The leading group on Sheffield Council yesterday (Wednesday, April 6) passed and emergency motion urging ministers to act following Tata’s announcement that it intended to sell its UK steel business.
The Indian firm’s decision puts the Tata Steel plants in Rotherham and Stocksbridge, and the jobs of more than 2,000 workers there, under threat.
Council leader Julie Dore said: “I’m really concerned about the current steel crisis and the prospect of further mass job losses in our region. We know what effect this has on households and it can devastate local communities. Steel is an industry of huge strategic importance which the government should be bending over backwards to save.
“The Tories’ unwillingness to act is yet more proof of how out of touch they are. It’s simply not good enough.
“While other countries like Germany and Italy have acted to protect their steel industries from Chinese dumping, the Tories have actually made the situation worse by blocking efforts to strengthen defences against cheap Chinese steel imports.
“We should be doing whatever it takes to save this vital industry – all cards must be on the table, including the option of Government taking a stake in the steel plants.”
Sheffield Labour said it thought the Government could be doing much more, including cutting business tax for steel producers, providing help with extortionate energy bills and taking urgent action to stop the dumping of cheap Chinese steel.
The Lib Dems tabled a separate motion to set up a steel task force, but the motion was defeated.
Coun Colin Ross, leader of Sheffield Council’s Lib Dem group, said: “As Liberal Democrats we welcome any concrete action that can be taken to help families and communities whose livelihoods are under threat from the steel crisis.
“We wanted to reach out and work with others including the Sheffield Labour party to set up a local task force who would be able to support and help local communities who are affected and work cross party to put direct pressure on the Conservative Government.
“We are sorry that Labour felt they couldn’t support our motion as the Liberal Democrats tabled it and instead chose to play party politics. The motion Labour chose offers no local help but just wants to grandstand and tell the Government they are wrong. Whilst that is the case Liberal Democrats want practical action locally lead by the council to support local communities at risk from this steel problem. Let’s hope Labour wake up to that and don’t just grandstand.”