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?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Ventilation Cleaning Operative

£15600 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower