Leonie Mathers guest column: Government and UK Coal need to save Thoresby

Thorsby Colliery.
Thorsby Colliery.

Thirty years on from the miners’ strike, our community is once again rallying round to fight pit closures. But we need the Government and UK Coal to do their bit too.

George Osborne recently took a trip underground at Thoresby Colliery and proudly declared that his priority was creating jobs.

Just weeks later, he has turned his back on our area and signed off plans to start the closure of the pit.

Two thousand people have signed our petition to save Thoresby, where 600 skilled jobs face the axe.

Many more jobs are at risk in local businesses which depend on contracts with the colliery.

Thoresby is the last colliery in Nottinghamshire, and most of the miners I’ve spoken to have been through it all before, moving around as one pit after another closed their doors for good.

But history and community are not the only reasons to fight - it’s about jobs and the local economy as well as our national energy security.

Coal is still the single biggest source of energy in Britain, and it will be for decades, even as the Government has pledged millions to develop ‘clean coal’ technology. If the last pits close, we face the prospect of becoming ever more reliant on coal shipped in from places like Russia.

In a ballot last week, miners were given an ultimatum. They were asked to choose between two no-win options: closure in weeks, or closure in months.

Although the extra months buy us time, it’s only useful if Ministers and UK Coal agree to change their mind and talk to other investors and Europe about more support.

And they need to act fast. Under the Conservative Government’s proposal to close the pit in 2015, around half the men will be laid off in the next month.

If that happens, all new development stops and fresh investment in the pit becomes too costly. At that point, it will be too late.

So we need the maximum pressure right now on the Government and the private companies involved. I won’t stop pushing for action, and you can help - sign my petition at http://action.savethoresby.co.uk. It’s time to stand up for our mining communities again.