Minister in talks over Didcot missing

Sarah Champion MP
Sarah Champion MP
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PRESSURE is mounting on the Government to intervene to find three men at the collapsed Didcot A Power Station.

MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, will meet minister Justin Tomlinson today to try and get to the bottom of hold-ups that mean there is currently limited access to the site.

Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire following the collapse of decommissioned A plant on February 23.

Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire following the collapse of decommissioned A plant on February 23.

The meeting comes as the funeral is held today of 'Whitby Mick' Collings, from Brotton, near Middlesbrough, who died when part of the power station collapsed on February 23.

Two other men from Rotherham, Ken Cresswell, 57, and John Shaw, 61, both from Rotherham, are still missing, as well as Christopher Huxtable, 34, from Swansea.

Labour MP Ms Champion said she had arranged the meeting with the Department for Work and Pensions minister after the families of the men from South Yorkshire contacted her for help.

She said: "Three weeks today half of Didcot Power Station which was being demolished, collapsed. Families contacted me because the search had been called off after five days, although the families say it was four days. Even so, when we think about factories collapsing in Bangladesh, or in other places around the world, they are still recovering people for many days and weeks afterwards."

Photo taken by the Ministry of Defence, of a Cutlass remote controlled vehicle being used by search and rescue teams at Didcot Power Station, Oxfordshire, after a building collapsed at the power station. The collapse killed one worker and trapped three.

Photo taken by the Ministry of Defence, of a Cutlass remote controlled vehicle being used by search and rescue teams at Didcot Power Station, Oxfordshire, after a building collapsed at the power station. The collapse killed one worker and trapped three.

She hopes the minister will put pressure on all services involved to make sure the men are found as soon as possible.

"The site is an npower site, but the contractor is Coleman and Company, but the Health and Safety Executive are now in control of the site, and police are in charge as it's a crime scene. "They have decided to hold back until they get the site stable," she said.

"On Friday I got them to agree to send in search dogs and friends and family bow have a petition of 16,000 signatures saying 'bring back our boys'.

"The reason there is nerves is because the other half of the building collapsed but I refuse to believe in our day and age we are not able to do something."

A joint statement on behalf of Thames Valley Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said they were waiting for site owners RWE to provide a plan of how they could safely access the site.

It said: “The priority of the multi-agency response remains the recovery of the missing men so they can be returned to their families. Specialist officers from Thames Valley Police continue to support the families at this difficult time and we are providing them with regular updates on the progress.

“The site owners RWE have overall responsibility for the safety of buildings and structures on their site. They must produce a plan for a safe method of working before the next stage of the recovery can begin. Once this is received and approved by HSE, emergency services are on hand to recover the missing men.

“Preparation at the site, for the recovery, is taking place and will continue over the weekend.

“We are working hard to identify as soon as possible what caused the building to partially collapse, to provide answers and prevent such a tragedy happening again.”

However RWE say they are waiting for the HSE to allow them full access, and they are experiencing delays because it is currently classed as a crime scene.

They say at present they have supervised access to cold zones on the site, but not the 'hot zones' which are the areas of risk and crucial to the search.