Ian Lavery: securing a future for Rio Tinto
The situation at Rio Tinto Alcan took a turn for the worse last week with the company's announcement last Wednesday. I met the joint trade union panel the following day and had a meeting scheduled with the management for Monday morning. I requested an urgent meeting with the Rt Hon Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, which will take place today, Wednesday.
I also requested an urgent meeting with the Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change and am awaiting his response. I will continue to work with anybody and everybody to try and secure a future for the smelter and power station.
The latest unemployment figures are terrible news for young people in Wansbeck. We need to get people back to work and off benefits, or rising unemployment will do long term damage. At the moment we are stuck in a vicious cycle. The brutal price our young people are paying for the Coalition Government's economic policies is now crystal clear. This Government is failing an entire generation. Their decision to cut too far and too fast is hurting, but it isn't working. This country has not seen youth unemployment on this scale since records began.
Regular readers of this column will be well aware that I have long been extremely concerned at proposals for the future of Northumberland College as a direct result of the proposed merger of the college with Newcastle College Group, and that I met the Minister recently to make him aware of my fears and concerns. Consequently, I was delighted that the Governors of Northumberland College have now voted not to continue merger talks with Newcastle College. I have a further meeting with the Minister later this week.
I am getting more and more concerned about the issue of metal theft. This is a problem throughout the country and I think it's time the Government sorted it out. The impact on us all can be very serious. Households face repeated power cuts, commuters can face increasing delays, churches and public buildings are being damaged, all as a result of escalating metal theft. The theft of electric wires is even putting lives at risk. The Government is being far too slow to act. It is still too easy to trade stolen metal. We need a much tougher licensing regime for dealers and stronger powers for the police to investigate. We need to support legitimate trade but make it easier to stop organised crime. With the consequences becoming increasingly serious, the Government shouldn't turn a blind eye or just leave it to the police. It's time for action.
We'd like to hear from you. Send your stories, pics and videos to email@example.com