Steel embodies town's 'sense of self', say MPs

Support for the prioritisation of British steel has bridged party rivalries in a Yorkshire town where the alloy’s production is core to its “sense of self”.

MPs for Rotherham and Rother Valley, Labour’s Sarah Champion and Conservative Alexander Stafford, agreed there was a bright future for the industry and those who worked in it, if certain steps were taken.

For Ms Champion these included “taking action on punitive business rates that penalise investment, tackling high energy costs, favouring British steel in Government procurement and protecting the industry from the dumping of cheap, state subsidised foreign steel on British markets”.

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While Mr Stafford urged the Government to use British steel in key infrastructure projects and in progressing the green industrial revolution.

Undated handout file photo issued by Liberty House of a steelworks in Rotherham. Photo: PA

“This is a really great opportunity to tick all the boxes,” he said, pointing to the building of new wind turbines and the construction of new ships announced in the defence review earlier this year, which will need steel for their constructions.

“The Government wants the steel industry to survive but we’ve got to be realistic about what the future is going to be, and clearly it’s high-quality, specialised steel which is geared towards a green renewable future,” he said.

“That’s where the growth opportunities are going to come, so we need to make sure our steel industry achieves that and that includes using hydrogen for producing the steel in the furnaces.”

He added: “If we don’t do it, someone else will.”

Ms Champion said: “Steel production is core not only to Rotherham’s economy, but to our sense of self.”

And she added: “It is not only the jobs in steel factories that I am concerned about. For every steel worker, there are another 4.8 people employed in the supply chain. Rather than warm words and slogans, the Government needs to recognise how important steel is to our region and step in and give long term promises to the sector to allow us all to flourish.”