Dark day a severe blow for region, warns MP

WANSBECK MP Ian Lavery has dubbed Tuesday a “dark day for the region”.

“It’s no surprise that Alcan has made the announcement, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing,” he said.

“It’s a severe blow to south east Northumberland, it’s a dark day for the region, and it’s going to be very, very difficult in the foreseeable future for the people of Alcan to try to resurrect their lives.

“There are going to be huge problems in south east Northumberland in terms of employment.”

Northumberland County Council leader Jeff Reid added: “The decision to close the smelter is devastating for the workforce and their families.

“Rio Tinto Alcan has been one of the county’s major employers for the last 40 years, and the loss of the smelter will have a major impact on the people and communities of south east Northumberland.”

“We will be working closely with RTA on longer-term plans for site remediation and economic development.”

The RTA Response Group has been set up to co-ordinate packages of support for Rio Tinto Alcan employees and the staff at risk of redundancy in supply chain companies affected by the closure decision.

The group’s chair Paul Moffat, a corporate director at Northumberland County Council, said: “Part of the council’s role is to help mitigate the negative social impact on our communities and we are working with local schools, colleges, voluntary and community groups to co-ordinate support.

“A number of specialist advice sessions have already taken place and we will continue to provide support as long as it is needed during the phased closure.”

North east MEP Fiona Hall said: “Yesterday I met with a representative of Rio Tinto Alcan in Brussels who highlighted that other of their plants worldwide are also facing closure. The current difficulties are not confined to the UK or Europe.

“We now face the very urgent task of ensuring the people who are about to lose their job have a training scheme or employment opportunity available to them.

“I will continue to press the government and the company to do all they can to help the local community.”

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said: “This is a serious blow for Northumberland, but one we have known about for some time.

“I have been in regular discussions with senior management at Rio Tinto Alcan about what the company would provide if the smelter had to close.

“Their legacy, after 40 years of support from the people of Northumberland, must focus on giving real benefits to the local communities near the plant and to the workforce.”