Save Our Steel

If you've been following the news over the last week or so you might have heard about the crisis within the steel industry and the consequent job losses at some major UK sites. One of these sites is Tata Steel in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire - my hometown.

News stories like this seem all too common these days. There have been many times where I've switched on the news to hear words like administration, redundancies and mothballing (actually I've never heard that word before today, I had to ask Carl what it meant) being thrown around. You kind of become desensitised to it. You only hear the statistics. You don't picture the people behind the redundancies or the families in turmoil or the worry and pain and frustration. Then one day it happens on your doorstep and you can't help but see it. And feel it.

With the exception of the three years that I moved away for university, I've always lived in Scunthorpe. It's a small, working class town like many others in the UK. It has a rapidly declining High Street with a few too many Poundshops, several out-of town retail areas (the newest of which includes a hotly debated M&S for the more seasoned shopper) and of course the picturesque Central Park where, on a hot day, you can see kids and dogs frolicking in the fountain no matter how many health and safety warnings the council dish out. It's the sort of place where everyone you meet will know someone else that you know. The night life scene reminds me of that episode of The Office where David Brent gets wrecked in Chasers. In 2013 it was voted the most unromantic place in the UK. It was the town in which the first series of the controversial channel 4 documentary Skint was filmed. I can even remember watching an episode of Celebrity Family Fortunes where Johnny Vegas won a holiday to Las Vegas and Vernon Kay quipped 'I bet you're glad your last name's not Scunthorpe.'

So at times it has seemed like my hometown is a bit of a national joke. But despite the jibes, the changes, the good and not so good developments over the years, one thing that has always remained constant here is the steelworks. It has changed and declined a lot over the years but it's still there. Perhaps not the prettiest skyline but one that demands respect because an entire town was built on it's foundations. Steel has been at the heart of Scunthorpe for well over 100 years.

But with the rumours of 900 job losses at Tata Steel confirmed yesterday (that's almost a quarter of a workforce that has already dropped dramatically over the past 40 years) things could change. Just about everyone in Scunthorpe will know someone who has links to the steelworks. Aside from the public sector, it is the biggest employer in the town. Make no mistake, this will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on other businesses and on the community in general. Already people are talking about Scunthorpe becoming a ghost town and it scares me. It scares me because this is my son's home and right now the future feels uncertain for us all.

I won't profess to being the most politically minded person but I have to question why the government aren't doing more to support this industry. Why can't they cut business rates, lower energy costs, challenge EU regulations and use our steel rather than importing cheap, Chinese steel for British infrastructure. I don't understand the economy really, maybe it's not that simple. But surely David Cameron - who claims to be all for 'the working man' - could do more? It baffles me. But mostly it saddens me because the steelworks is an integral part of the town's history and to see it in such dire straits is pretty heartbreaking. My dad and granddad were both steelworkers at one point and while I'm lucky not to have any family currently working there, I'm not daft enough to think it won't affect me in one way or another.

So I would ask anyone who feels strongly about this to sign this petition to encourage the government to fight for this industry and save our steel.

It might not be the prettiest of skylines but it's one that I've always been rather fond of.



2 comments:

  1. I live up in the North East and a couple of weeks ago Redcar was going through the same with their steel works being closed down. It's such a shame...
    My dad & brother live in Scunthopre and love it there. They said they'd never move back to the North East x

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    1. Heard about the Redcar situation, so sad. I really feel for the people who have put in years and years of service only to be tossed on the scrapheap now. It's a very worrying time and I'm not even directly affected by it. Really hope something can be done.
      Glad to hear your dad and brother like it in Scunny. Despite it's flaws, I do too. Home is where the heart is.
      Thank you for reading and commenting :) x

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