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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The time for talk is over on Tata steel

Last night's news that Tata is to sell its UK operation is deeply unsettling and worrying for the region I represent, those whose livelihood depend on this business and for the future of our area's economy.

It is inconceivable that the Assembly will not now be recalled to discuss this issue and yet the time for talking is over. We need action and in particular we need the UK Government to step up to the mark and put its money where its mouth is when it comes to the future of the steel industry in the UK.

I have slept on this and here are my thoughts on what needs to be done now. This is not an exhaustive list nor is it particularly original but it should form the basis for discussion and I would hope that Ministers in both the UK and Welsh Governments can get together quickly and start working through this list alongside other measures they may have in mind.

The Welsh and UK Governments need to work together closely to facilitate a sale and ensure that Tata continues as a going concern. This includes cutting the plant's costs by:

1. Cutting business rates
2. Reducing energy costs
3. Going to the EU with proposals for higher tariffs on steel imports from outside the EU
4. If necessary taking a stake in the plant themselves in partnership with a buyer so as to make a sale sustainable and achievable.

If a buyer cannot be found then the UK Government (as this affects more than Wales) should fully nationalise the business so as to make it profitable in the long term so it can be resold at a later date. The Welsh Government should be a partner in this process.

In the meantime, we need action to attract new jobs to Port Talbot including immediate implementation of the Enterprise Zone proposal with its capital allowances and the creation of an urban development company with a brief to attract new investment to the area and a capital budget to facilitate that.

I hope to be able to develop these thoughts further in an Assembly plenary next week.
Sorry bud but you forget that the majority of steel users, including car and white goods manufacturers, like low steel prices. If they can't get access to these lower prices they'll just move their factories elsewhere. And so the problem just gets bigger.

Now tell me how nationalisation helps? It matters not that the business is cyclical, the cycle is always downwards.

New jobs yes, in Port Talbot why? People can and must travel to find work. It's what the rest of us have had to do all our lives. But, are these people are well enough educated to compete for good jobs elsewhere? I suspect not.

Discuss this in your Assembly plenary next week and hold your head in shame!

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