Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland calls on Government to support steel workers

The Northern Echo: TALKS HELD: David Jones MP, second right, meeting, from left, Hitachi plant manager Darren Cumner, county councillor Neil Foster and Geoff Hunton, of Merchant Place Developments, which owns the Hitachi plant site TALKS HELD: David Jones MP, second right, meeting, from left, Hitachi plant manager Darren Cumner, county councillor Neil Foster and Geoff Hunton, of Merchant Place Developments, which owns the Hitachi plant site

THE Government must use the North-East steel industry to build its £32bn high-speed rail network and safeguard thousands of Teesside jobs, it was claimed last night.

The 250mph rail service will run between London and Newcastle, cutting journeys by more than 30 minute and connecting the region with the rest of the country.

The service will use the existing East Coast Main Line track from Newcastle to York, before joining a new high-speed line at Church Fenton, outside York.

The high-speed trains could be in operation by 2033.

Mr Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland, said the Government should use steel from SSI in Redcar and Lackenby, after failing to route the high-speed line through the North-East.

He said: "We continue to be left behind in terms of transport infrastructure, and given the extension plans seem to look no further north than Leeds, the Government are continuing to demonstrate their failure to invest in transport infrastructure in North-East.

"One way of overcoming this disadvantage would be a firm declaration that they would prioritise the ordering of steel from Teesside.

"The SSI plant in Redcar would benefit, as would Lackenby Beam Mill, which is an ideal source for the beams and sections for overhead gantries.

"The Skinningrove plant in east Cleveland, which has had a history of forging and rolling high quality rail, would also welcome the work.

"We have a tradition of top class and global standard steel making and there would be both pride and relief for our area if passengers were riding smoothly and safely on Teesside steel."

Under the plans, trains will not stop at Church Fenton but join the high-speed line before continuing through Leeds, Sheffield, Toton, in Nottingham, and Birmingham, before reaching London.

Business leaders have welcomed the move, saying the 211-mile route will increase rail use and ease the pressure on North-East companies, though residents in Church Fenton and the Country Land and Business Association say the plans will damage the countryside.

Mark Stephenson, policy advisor at North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “This is positive news and will triple the North-East rail network passenger capacity.

"It will take the pressure of commuter numbers and will lift the burden off businesses who find it expensive to pay for people to travel to London.

"That should save them a serious amount of money which could be used on apprenticeships or machinery."

The Government says up to 16 trains could run between Newcastle and London every day.

Heidi Mottram, a former managing director of Northern Rail and now a member of the Government's North-East Economic Review panel, said the line would provide a catalyst for the region's economy.

She said: "There has been a lot of agonising from some people, but other countries have done similar schemes and reaped the benefits.

"This will have a major impact for the North-East because people will be able to travel at high speed to London, which will save a lot of time, and it seems inevitable that it will be extended to Scotland.

"Services will get faster and this should benefit companies in the North-East because they can link up with similar companies across the country at greater speed."

PANEL OF REDUCED TRAIN TIMES UNDER HS2 Journeys from Newcastle to London reduce to 2hr 18min from 2hr 52min.

From Newcastle to Birmingham; 2hr 7min from 3hr 14min.

From Newcastle to Nottingham; 2hr 3min from 2hr 59min.

From Newcastle to Sheffield; 1hr 37min from 1hr 55min.

Comments (4)

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9:26am Tue 29 Jan 13

Ally F says...

It's good to raise the profile of our local steel industry, where quality and productivity rank amongst the best in the world. You have to wonder what former Communist Dictatorship Tom Blenkinsop has formerly worked for. Or maybe he is just a bit green and naive when it comes to the real world and how business works.

The Government won't buy any steel for new rail or any other transport infrastructure. They will sanction the project by means of legislation and Act of Parliament. That provides the legal framework whereby private companies will build tender for and, likely, a consortium of them will build the infrastructure.

Hopefully those will be UK companies who will buy UK materials, that's called 'doing the decent thing'. We hope and expect that this is factored into any tender evaluation process. That is perfectly practical and possible. But in a free-market economy the Government can't dictate who shall use what from whom. Else we do end up in a Dictatorship. As is always the case, cost will be the deciding factor. Chinese steel might be cheaper, but only cheaper ex-works. The cost of shipping it round the world and ensuring it meets strict quality control criteria has to be factored in, and that surely favours our Teesside product.

The best head start Teesside steelmaking can have is to build upon their reputation for being highly efficient and making some of the finest steel product in the world. That would serve them much better than relying on Blenkinsop’s sentimental clap trap. In communist former Eastern Germany, the only people’s car you could purchase and drive was the Trabant, and so it was for 40 years…. The best way to kill industry off in the long run is to isolate it from healthy global competition and innovation and start dictating what people can and can’t purchase.
It's good to raise the profile of our local steel industry, where quality and productivity rank amongst the best in the world. You have to wonder what former Communist Dictatorship Tom Blenkinsop has formerly worked for. Or maybe he is just a bit green and naive when it comes to the real world and how business works. The Government won't buy any steel for new rail or any other transport infrastructure. They will sanction the project by means of legislation and Act of Parliament. That provides the legal framework whereby private companies will build tender for and, likely, a consortium of them will build the infrastructure. Hopefully those will be UK companies who will buy UK materials, that's called 'doing the decent thing'. We hope and expect that this is factored into any tender evaluation process. That is perfectly practical and possible. But in a free-market economy the Government can't dictate who shall use what from whom. Else we do end up in a Dictatorship. As is always the case, cost will be the deciding factor. Chinese steel might be cheaper, but only cheaper ex-works. The cost of shipping it round the world and ensuring it meets strict quality control criteria has to be factored in, and that surely favours our Teesside product. The best head start Teesside steelmaking can have is to build upon their reputation for being highly efficient and making some of the finest steel product in the world. That would serve them much better than relying on Blenkinsop’s sentimental clap trap. In communist former Eastern Germany, the only people’s car you could purchase and drive was the Trabant, and so it was for 40 years…. The best way to kill industry off in the long run is to isolate it from healthy global competition and innovation and start dictating what people can and can’t purchase. Ally F

9:38am Tue 29 Jan 13

CynicaloldGit says...

It won't go to Teesside, the gov't waffles on about creating jobs, but the steel will come from China like all the other crap we get from there. China is an economy built on cheap rubbish.
It won't go to Teesside, the gov't waffles on about creating jobs, but the steel will come from China like all the other crap we get from there. China is an economy built on cheap rubbish. CynicaloldGit

10:21am Tue 29 Jan 13

John Justice says...

Actually E U legislation ties the governments hands when it comes to tendering for work. While every one with an ounce of common sense and national pride wants British steel to be used our non elected masters in the EU have past legislation that means that our democratically elected government must allow tenders for the contract from around the EU. As a Labour MP Mr Blenkinsop knows that. He will also know that our government cannot just award the contract to Teesside because of such legislation. I may be mistaken regarding the actual amounts that local authorities can award contracts for work, I think it is under £150,000, that is why some awards for things like wheely bins have gone abroad.
Actually E U legislation ties the governments hands when it comes to tendering for work. While every one with an ounce of common sense and national pride wants British steel to be used our non elected masters in the EU have past legislation that means that our democratically elected government must allow tenders for the contract from around the EU. As a Labour MP Mr Blenkinsop knows that. He will also know that our government cannot just award the contract to Teesside because of such legislation. I may be mistaken regarding the actual amounts that local authorities can award contracts for work, I think it is under £150,000, that is why some awards for things like wheely bins have gone abroad. John Justice

3:28pm Tue 29 Jan 13

st-george1 says...

Is there NO shame in Thomas Blenkinsop, a Labour Party politician demanding unreal powers of persuasion from opposition politicians that his own party when in government did NOTHING to save the jobs on the old Corus workers … Reading this article, I have learned another word for bullsh*t … FANTASTIC !
We don’t have many if any british-owned producers here and as some might think about what China and other Far-East countries do best, some will stille say their economy is built on rubbish … but look at their success story !
Whether its win, lose or draw life’s short straw, or stub their toe on the podium, it sounds like some self-indulgent, attention-seeking Labour MP‘s pie in the sky reaction has little or NO LOGIC.
Everyone has to cry these days, all because the UK lost its backbone a very long time ago I'm afraid …about 1997 to be precise, the start of the Bliar years !
Is there NO shame in Thomas Blenkinsop, a Labour Party politician demanding unreal powers of persuasion from opposition politicians that his own party when in government did NOTHING to save the jobs on the old Corus workers … Reading this article, I have learned another word for bullsh*t … FANTASTIC ! We don’t have many if any british-owned producers here and as some might think about what China and other Far-East countries do best, some will stille say their economy is built on rubbish … but look at their success story ! Whether its win, lose or draw life’s short straw, or stub their toe on the podium, it sounds like some self-indulgent, attention-seeking Labour MP‘s pie in the sky reaction has little or NO LOGIC. Everyone has to cry these days, all because the UK lost its backbone a very long time ago I'm afraid …about 1997 to be precise, the start of the Bliar years ! st-george1

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