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Red Wall voters bash Boris as last English coal mining firm is forced to announce lay-offs due to planning delays

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘letting down’ northern voters who helped him win a majority amid a row over the future of coal.

The last coal mining company in England has urged ministers to make a decision on a new open-cast site after it started laying off staff as its sites cease production.

Banks Mining is due to stop work at its final surface mine at Bradley, County Durham, next month.

Redundancies: Banks Mining, the last coal mining company in England has urged ministers to make a decision on a new open-cast site after it started the process of laying off staff

It has been waiting since April to hear if it can start production at the controversial Highthorn site near picturesque Druridge Bay, Northumberland, which has been opposed by locals.

A planning decision is yet to be announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Normally Banks would operate a surface mine until the coal was extracted, restore the site, then move on to another, but it currently has nowhere else to go.

The firm said British industry still needs more than 5m tons of coal a year, some of it used to make steel and concrete, and this would have to be imported from Russia, which operates less environmentally-friendly mines, with the added carbon cost of transporting it to the UK.

With 250 jobs under threat, Banks managing director Gavin Styles and workers urged the Government to make a decision.Plant operator Steven White, 57, who has worked for the firm for 41 years, said: ‘I am angry more than anything else that there is so much need for this coal and yet the Government seems to be ignoring us.

‘I voted for Boris, which makes me even more angry. I think he’s letting us down a bit.’

Shop steward Graham Walton, in a message to Mr Jenrick, said: ‘Stop messing about, give us our jobs and let us provide the coal that the country needs.’

Production manager David Paterson said: ‘It’s absolutely gutting, it’s unknown of for guys to spend north of 40 years working for the same company.

‘That’s testament to how Banks treat their employees,’ he said. ‘They have nowhere to go because of Government indecision.’
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