The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has expressed ‘disappointment and dismay’ at the announcement that not more is to be done to prevent the closure of Edwinstowe’s Thoresby Colliery.
Hundreds of years of coal mining tradition in the county is set to end next year as the pit’s operator, UK Coal, embarks on an 18-month ‘managed closure’.
The Government is providing a £10m loan to UK Coal to carry out the closure by October 2015, despite estimates that there are at least five years’ worth of coal reserves still underground.
There will be around 600 job losses at the colliery with the closure also hitting local suppliers, other local businesses and the wider community.
The unemployment rate in the Mansfield Travel to Work Area, which includes Thoresby Colliery is 3.3 per cent - higher than the national average of three per cent. Other former coalfield communities such as Clipstone and Boughton have rates closer to 4.2 per cent.
Now council leader Alan Rhodes says he is angry not enough is being done to save Thoresby.
“I am disappointed and dismayed that so little is being done to protect our communities,the local economy and the country’s coal supplies - especially following the Prime Minister’s recent assurances that he would do everything in his power to keep Thoresby and Kellingley (in Yorkshire) open,” he said.
“This is a personal tragedy for each and every miner and employee at Thoresby, their families and nearby communities. It makes no sense to cut off our own coal supplies, make our miners redundant and replace them with imported coal - especially with fluctuating prices and the increased chances of the UK being held to ransom without its own supplies to fall back on.”
Following news of the phased closure, the council hopes to work with UK Coal, the Government and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership to draw up a support package for those affected.
Added Coun Rhodes: “We have had a very encouraging response from UK Coal, Government offices and the various agencies so far to our offer of facilitating urgent discussions.
“We expect the Government and partners to work together with us to develop a fully resourced support package to help the people being made redundant and to the Nottinghamshire communities most affected. It is vital that issues like the retraining of employees, the creation of equivalent quality jobs and the successful redevelopment of the site are provided as part of the managed closure plan.”