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
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all