Greg Wright: Justice at last in Carrington Wire case?

AFTER four agonising years, is it possible that the Carrington Wire pensioners will finally gain justice?

Since 2011, The Yorkshire Post, along with Yorkshire MPs Dan Jarvis and Craig Whittaker, has been lobbying hard to keep the pension scheme members’ plight in the public eye. It’s a complex story, but it really ought to have a simple ending. The scheme members just want the Pensions Regulator to take decisive action to protect their pensions.

For those unfamiliar with the story, here’s a brief recap: Hundreds of workers at Carrington Wire joined their company pension scheme because they believed it would offer them a comfortable retirement income. Now, their dreams of a happy retirement could be shattered, and some members are suffering financial pressure. Carrington Wire, based in Elland, West Yorkshire, closed with the loss of more than 80 jobs in 2010. The Russian parent company Severstal said the decision was due to a contraction in the steel wire market. In 2010, Mr Whittaker, the Conservative MP for Calder Valley wrote to the Pensions Regulator, calling for an investigation into the position of the company’s pension scheme after what remained of Carrington Wire was sold out of the Severstal group.

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In 2012, Barnsley Central Labour MP Mr Jarvis and Mr Whittaker met Pensions Minister Steve Webb and the Pensions Regulator because they were concerned about the time it was taking to complete the investigation. Not much has changed since then.

In exasperation, Mr Jarvis has now written to David Cameron, calling on the PM to intervene. Severstal says that it met all of its obligations to fund the pension scheme while Carrington Wire was under its ownership. Yesterday. there was a glimmer of hope. A spokesman for the Pensions Regulator confirmed that a hearing into the Carrington Wire case is due to be held in January next year; almost five years after the probe began.

To a layman, this still seems like a staggering delay. It’s now up to the Pensions Regulator to finally show it has some teeth, and protect the interests of Yorkshire workers.

THERE are few more majestic sights than the sea front at Scarborough. With the Tour de France generating astounding levels of global interest in Yorkshire, many people are savouring the delights of God’s Own County for the first time. I take no pleasure, then, in recounting a cautionary tale about how NOT to deliver customer service. Along with fellow guests on part of the fifth floor at The Grand Hotel in Scarborough, we were subjected to an ordeal in the early hours of Sunday morning that still makes me shudder. Around 1am, a violent, drunken ‘guest’ at the hotel decided to try to kick in the door of the room next door room and threaten violence on whoever was inside it. The obvious response - phoning reception from our room for help - was not an option.

There was no phone in our room, and although we had mobiles, the management hadn’t thought it necessary to provide guests with a number providing a direct line to reception.

The only way of summoning help from reception would have been to walk into the corridor. braving the boot and fists of the violent lout, and use an emergency phone in the hall. Thankfully, the shouting and banging finally subsided, but it must have been a terrifying experience for families with children on our corridor. When we complained the following morning, the response didn’t inspire confidence.

“I’ll mention it my duty manager,’’ the receptionist replied, without writing down anything we’d said.

In the grand scheme of customer complaints, this was off the scale. We weren’t just moaning about the bathroom decor.

It’s highly likely that our floor contained people who were visiting Yorkshire for the first time. I would be surprised if any of them return.