October 22: SOS call to save steel industry

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IF DAVID Cameron will not listen to Jeremy Corbyn over the steel crisis, perhaps he will heed the words of Sheffield Forgemasters chairman Tony Pedder who warns that the job losses will continue unless the Government develops a coherent industrial policy and takes decisive action at EU-level so British manufacturers are no longer crippled by unsustainable energy costs​ and Chinese state-owned companies dumping low-cost steel in European markets.​

Mr Pedder is a much-respected figure steeped in the steel industry who can empathise with all those workers who have lost their jobs in recent weeks because of global factors, like ​weakening demand for steel in China, which are beyond their control. He also knows that this industry will continue to haemorrhage jobs unless a special task force on manufacturing competitiveness is established to work alongside the Government’s infrastructure commission.

After all, projects like HS2 ​and HS3 will not be able to deliver the anticipated jobs dividend for the UK unless Britain has a sustainable steel industry.

As this newspaper argued yesterday, Mr Cameron should be using his European Union renegotiation to demand urgent reform of EU state aid rules which are preventing Ministers from taking further action to stabilise the industry so it is in a position to compete for new orders. The Prime Minister says he is not complacent on this issue, but it was Mr Corbyn of all people who had to point out the inaction at European level since the Tory leader’s meeting 11 months ago with those MPs representing steel-making constituencies like Scunthorpe and Redcar. And while Mr Cameron says he will now look to help in four vital areas, including energy costs, time is not on his side – the industry needs decisive action” in days and weeks, not months and years”. Who says so? Tony Pedder. As such, it is critical that he, and his collleagues are now listened to – before it is too late.

NHS buck-passing

Managers must be accountable

AS Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, makes clear in her latest quarterly report, most people lodging complaints about the NHS, care services and the work of GPs do so because of a sense of public duty rather than a deep desire for financial recomponse.

Yet what is perturbing, however, is the volume of cases – some relatively minor – being referred to Ombudsman because NHS trusts are reluctant, or unable, to resolve them at a local level. This is wrong. Hospitals are a public service and senior executives – many of whom are paid more than the Prime Minister – should not absolve themselves of responsibility. They head a whole tier of middle-managers, including PR consultants, who should be taking the lead when complaints are received rather than perpetuating a culture of bureaucratic buck-passing in the hope that the patient concerned, or their family, will despair and give up.

This is simply not good enough. When a hospital in Yorkshire, or further afield, is held to account, the response from the officials concerned normally comprises four words – “lessons will be learned”.

Yet how can this mantra be believed when so many NHS chiefs appear reluctant to resolve complaints? At a time when St James’s Hospital in Leeds is under the microscope for serving curry and crumble on the same plate to a patient, it’s time officials started accepting some responsibility for what happens on their watch – they’re paid enough to do so.

Taste of Yorkshire

Celebrating the best of the best

THE CREATIVITY of Sam Moorhouse, who won the top award at last night’s Taste Awards run by Deliciously Yorkshire and The Yorkshire Post, is significant for two reasons. Not only does this triumph offer hope to the dairy industry at a time of crisis, but it shows why this county’s food and drink producers are the best of the best.

His Icelandic-style skyr yogurt, produced from his pedigree dairy herd, shows what is possible when farms do diversity – Mr Moorhouse has even built his own dairy – and it is this dynamism which will enable the county’s agricultural sector to flourish in the years to come. This success is even more meritorious because the awards attracted a record 300-plus entries, proof positive that Yorkshire’s food and drink sector is thriving. And it will prosper still further if more people support those ventures whose produce would not look out of place at iconic stores like London’s Fortnum & Mason.