WANSBECK MP Ian Lavery will today tell Vince Cable to save the Alcan plant at Lynemouth or let a “disaster” unfold.
Mr Lavery will deliver the message to the Business Secretary in a meeting today because he fears for the future of his constituency if the plant is allowed to close.
More than 500 jobs would be axed if the Lynemouth aluminium smelter closes, with thousands more workers in the supply chain thought to be at risk.
There are also concerns about another 100 jobs as current owner Rio Tinto Alcan is in talks regarding the potential sale of the power station at the site.
Mr Lavery’s worries have been underlined by recent research by House of Commons experts showing 16.6 jobseekers’ allowance claimants for every vacancy at Jobcentre Plus in Wansbeck last month.
He wants a Government package to encourage Rio Tinto Alcan to maintain operations at Lynemouth or encourage other potential purchasers to come forward. Speaking to The Journal, Mr Lavery said: “The focus should be on the alarming increase in unemployment this month and what impact that could have in the following months if indeed Alcan does close and the supply chain basically collapses.
“Unemployment is extremely high in this month’s figures. What will the figures be like if Alcan goes?”
He warned of a “desperate” need for jobs, adding: “To quite honest it will be a frightening place in which to live, you cannot see the place surviving.
“And this was the epicentre of the coal mining industry, we had thriving manufacturing, the power station at Blyth.”
The Labour MP also said: “We have got absolutely nothing left if Alcan is allowed to close. So my job at this time is to convince the Government to come forward with a package of measures to encourage Alcan to continue operations at Lynemouth or people to come in from the aluminium industry otherwise it will be an absolute disaster.”
Re-training and re-skilling workers was vital, but Mr Lavery stressed the need for job creation if employment was not available.
“The best way to resolve this situation is to ensure that Rio Tinto Alcan and the Government leave no stone unturned in finding someone to take on the smelter at Lynemouth.
“And that is the case I will be making for the employees and area when I meet Vince Cable tonight,” said the Wansbeck MP.
Rio Tinto Alcan has claimed the smelter was no longer a sustainable business as its energy costs were increasing significantly, due “largely to emerging legislation”.