Government in Crisis: Confusion reigns at 10 pits facing closure

MANAGERS and miners at the 10 pits threatened with immediate closure were thrown into confusion by the statement by Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade.

They are likely to have to wait for clarification in the High Court today about whether they have to work their 90-day reprieve period or will receive a cash payment in lieu of notice.

Most are still unsure exactly what will happen to their pits. Mr Heseltine said that no pits would shut until the statutory notice and consultation period was complete but managers believed it was unlikely any coal would be produced.

British Coal said no redundancy notices would be sent during the 90 days. 'While the corporation will approach the statutory consultations with an open mind, it does not want to raise false hope.

'Subject to those consultations, it is British Coal's present view that the 10 collieries have no realistic prospect of a viable future whatever the outcome of the wider review,' a statement said.

At Shirebrook colliery, Derbyshire, two faces need development work before Christmas, without which the mine cannot prove its viability. 'The lads have been phoning from underground to ask how long have we got,' an NUM official said. 'We can't tell them any more now than yesterday.'

Roy Lynk, president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, who is maintaining his occupation 1,200 feet underground at Silverhill Colliery, Nottinghamshire, said Mr Heseltine's statement was a 'whitewash'. He said in a message to his union office: 'There is nothing in it for our members. British Coal still intends to close all the pits.'

He said he would return his OBE to the Queen as a protest at the closures, and would not be standing for re-election as UDM president next month.

Peter Hewes, deputy manager of Silverhill, also on the list of 10, said that he was seeking clarification on Silverhill's position. 'As things stand at the moment, nothing has changed. There will be no night shift and we will not be coaling in the morning,' he said.

Mr Hewes, who stands to lose his job, said management at the colliery had lost faith in the Government and Mr Heseltine. 'The argument he has been putting forward does not hold water. We do feel rather let down,' he said.

British Coal's former commercial director, Malcolm Edwards, said it was 'inevitable' that the Government would change course. He said: 'What the statement does not do is address the country's energy strategy or the problem of what is in the country's best long-term interests.'

Mr Edwards said: 'Some of these mines can work for a number of years, employ a lot of people and produce competitive and profitable coal. These mines need to be offered to the market, they should not be shut by government diktat.'

Union leaders said that the announcement would not alter plans for tomorrow's mass demonstration in London and lobby of Parliament.

The Coalfields Communities Campaign said the extra aid to the coalfields would add up to little.

Hedley Salt, chairman of the campaign group, which represents 90 local authorities, said Mr Heseltine had failed to recognise that the closure of three-fifths of the coal industry was unacceptable.

'Nothing short of suspension of the whole closure programme followed by a full and independent review of the costs and benefits to the nation is what is really needed,' he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss