THE formal announcement that the Lynemouth smelter will start to close from the end of May means the focus of effort must now turn to finding work for the 515 employees who will lose their jobs and ensuring a legacy for the area.
Speaking today, 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.
“I am pushing them to press ahead with plans for providing training and business opportunities for their workers.
“We also need to ensure other organisations in the area can get involved, if there is an opportunity for them to help. I know that the Response Group at Northumberland County Council have been working hard to put support in place and I am having talks with the leader of the Council about where we go next.
“The extension of the North East Enterprise Zone to Northumberland will create opportunities in the future but we need help now to bridge the gap until the Zone is up and running, and I will be speaking to Government Ministers about what help we can expect.
“In the meantime I am working with the company and Government ministers to secure the future of the power station, which employs another 120 people.”