•   
  •   

World 'If the steelworks shuts it will destroy Rotherham'

20:52  26 march  2021
20:52  26 march  2021 Source:   bbc.com

Liberty Steel owner structure 'very opaque'

  Liberty Steel owner structure 'very opaque' The business secretary says the UK did not bail out Liberty Steel due to its owner's complex structure.On Sunday, the government rejected a request for £170m in financial support for the firm.

"It's frightening. I don't like to think about it."

Chris Williamson, a Rotherham steel worker, is contemplating the potential closure of the plant where he's worked for 26 years, and the impact it would have on the community.

His dad worked there for four decades, and his brother works in the steel supply chain. Steel is very much a family business.

"Rotherham is a steel town, its recognised as a steel town. It's fundamental to Rotherham's image. It's vital. For every one of our jobs, there's another two or three in the supply chain," says Chris, who's also a local rep for the steel union, Community.

"If we go by the wayside, who's going to pay our wages here? We get a decent wage but we're in a dangerous industry. Where else are we going to get a job like that? It would just be a domino effect of people suffering. In the end, you'll end up with a town full of shopkeepers and no one to buy anything, because they haven't got the income."

I May Destroy You wins big at Britain's Royal Television Awards

  I May Destroy You wins big at Britain's Royal Television Awards I May Destroy You wins big at Britain's Royal Television AwardsCoel was named Best Actor - Female for her portrayal of Arabella, a woman trying to piece her life back together after a sexual assault, and she also picked up the Writing - Drama prize, while the show was named Best Mini-Series.

  • Liberty Steel: Government looking at 'all options'
  • Liberty Steel asks customers to pay up front

Over the decades steel workers like Chris have seen a fair amount of upheaval at the Rotherham plant, and a number of different owners too. First Corus, then Tata, and now Sanjeev Gupta's Liberty Steel, which is battling to secure finance for Rotherham and 11 other sites across the UK, employing 5,000 people.

Tonight, it's emerged that Mr Gupta has written to the government, requesting a £170m bailout for his steel businesses.

The government won't comment on the request, but says it's monitoring the situation closely. The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs today that the government is looking at all options to make sure Liberty Steel does not collapse.

Fed govt 'acutely aware' of Greensill risk

  Fed govt 'acutely aware' of Greensill risk Finance Minister Simon Birmingham says the government is closely monitoring the Greensill collapse and risks to billionaire Sanjeev Gupta's plans for Whyalla.Concerns focus on the Whyalla steelworks in South Australia owned by billionaire industrialist Sanjeev Gupta who heads GFG Alliance, which relied on Greensill finance for its planned $1 billion transformation of the plant.

The government says it's monitoring the situation closely and the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs on Thursday that it was looking at all options to make sure Liberty Steel does not collapse.

The Championship is BACK... the run-in is set to be as bonkers as ever

  The Championship is BACK... the run-in is set to be as bonkers as ever MATT BARLOW: Norwich and Watford, with their deep squads and the luxury of parachute payments at a time when the gates are closed and money is tight, appear strong at the top.Norwich and Watford, with their deep squads and the luxury of parachute payments at a time when the gates are closed and money is tight, appear strong and healthy at the top.

Much of the work at Rotherham has ground to a halt, with Chris and many of his colleagues placed on furlough. Around 1,700 people work across both sites in normal times. He's due back at work on 14 April, but it's all very uncertain.

'Nervousness and frustration'

"There's nervousness, but also a bit of frustration," he says. "We were aspiring to be a super plant, making a million tons of steel a year. We've got a full order book, and yet here we are, furloughed."

Despite his current financial woes, Sanjeev Gupta still has a lot of support from steelworkers across the country, including Chris.

"Everybody's a bit bemused by his business models. But when Sanjeev first arrived he was very well received because Tata declared they didn't want us, so we were basically on the scrap heap. Without Sanjeev, we wouldn't be here, so we've got to be thankful for that."

Giraffe From 'The Hangover' Movie Placed at the Center of Criminal Trials

  Giraffe From 'The Hangover' Movie Placed at the Center of Criminal Trials Customers of Malibu Wine Safaris are seeking refunds for trips booked before or during the COVID-19 pandemic.The animal, named Stanley, has lived at Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu since 2015, according to a report on the case by ABC 7 Eyewitness News. The giraffe has been "seized in place" by the CDFW as evidence in two pending trials against its owner and separately against the operator of Malibu Wine Safaris, where the giraffe is an attraction.

He adds: "Just because he's hitting a bit of trouble, we can't just bin him. We've got to take him at his word at the moment, and hopefully we can ride this out."

Chris isn't the only one scratching his head about Liberty's financial situation. It's a complicated picture.

Finance company Greensill Capital was the main lender to Mr Gupta's sprawling steel empire. It helped speed up cash flow for businesses by paying their invoices immediately, and recovering the money from customers later, for a fee. But it went bust at the beginning of the month, leaving Liberty starved of cash.

'The beating heart of the community'

You can't miss the steel plant in Stocksbridge, Rotherham's sister site 12 miles down the road, just outside Sheffield. The building, which has been home to a steelworks since the mid 19th Century, sits at the bottom of the valley, and its dominance goes way beyond its physical presence at the centre of the town.

"It's the beating heart of the community," says Tracey Martin, who's owned Samuel's Cafe across the road from the site for the past 20 years.

How mRNA Technology Could Change the World

  How mRNA Technology Could Change the World mRNA’s story likely will not end with COVID-19: Its potential stretches far beyond this pandemic. This year, a team at Yale patented a similar RNA-based technology to vaccinate against malaria, perhaps the world’s most devastating disease. Because mRNA is so easy to edit, Pfizer says that it is planning to use it against seasonal flu, which mutates constantly and kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year.

Stocksbridge makes specialist steel products for the aviation industry, which has itself been laid low by the pandemic. Like the Rotherham site, many staff are currently furloughed and it's already affecting local businesses such as Tracey's. At least 50% of her customers are steel workers.

"We've seen a big difference to our business already with the workers on furlough," says Tracey.

"If the steelworks were to go, it would affect every single business in the town, but it goes far beyond the valley with the supply chain that people don't realise exists. It affects a lot of livelihoods."

She's hopeful that the site will be rescued. "Ever since I've owned my cafe, there have been issues with the steel works but luckily, there has always been a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel which keeps them going. We're just hoping that the government or someone can step in temporarily until a new buyer can be found."

Tracey says a lot of businesses were already struggling because of Covid, and the "news about the works has topped it off".

a man wearing a hat: Sanjeev Gupta is battling to secure finance 12 steel plants © PA Media Sanjeev Gupta is battling to secure finance 12 steel plants

At its peak in the 1970s, the UK steel industry employed hundreds of thousands of people, a significant number of them in South Yorkshire. One of Tracey's regulars, John, used to work at the plant. He says the steel industry in the area is a shadow of its former self.

Arctic mining takes centre stage in Greenland election

  Arctic mining takes centre stage in Greenland election Greenland votes Tuesday in legislative elections largely seen as a referendum on a controversial mining project that would help diversify the Arctic island's economy as it plans for a future altered by global warming. The autonomous Danish territory obtained ownership of its vast mineral reserves in 2009 when its self-rule powers were widened. Those resources, its geopolitical relevance and easier access due to melting sea ice have made Greenland increasingly attractive to the world's superpowers in recent years. Donald Trump, when he was US president, even offered to buy the island in 2019.

"When I was an apprentice, there were 9,500 people working in steel around this area. Now it's only around 650.

"The products they make here are so highly specialised, for the oil industry and aviation. If it was to go, it would be a huge loss to the country, not just this area," says John.

UK steel needs help to compete

Many steel analysts would agree. Chris McDonald is a former executive at Tata Steel, and now runs the Materials Processing Institute on Teesside. He says that despite the recent downturn in demand for steel due to the pandemic, the market is now growing again, particularly for the type of specialist steel made at sites such as Rotherham and Stocksbridge.

"The fundamentals of the business are still right, so Liberty might just need some support to be able to ride out this dip in the market," says Chris.

"Then as that market comes back up we can expect their business to come back up as well."

But he says the UK steel industry is falling behind global rivals, particularly in Europe, and that it needs to be put on a sustainable footing with ongoing support.

"The government could buy more UK produced steel for infrastructure projects, the way the French government do. Or they could support more equal energy prices, the way the German government do. Either or both of these things could help the UK industry to compete on level terms."

Back in Rotherham, despite the current owner's problems, Chris Williamson is also optimistic that the town can continue to make steel for many years to come.

"We can spend the next 30 years at least making steel here. We just need a bit of faith. The last 12 years have been like a rollercoaster. But I do think we have got a future."

He adds: "Whether it's with Sanjeev, I don't know."

Philippines shuts churches, curbs travel as virus surges .
Churches in Manila will be closed, eating inside restaurants banned and leisure travel outside the Philippine capital curbed under new coronavirus rules unveiled Sunday as the country battles a resurgence in infections. In recent weeks, targeted lockdowns, strict night-time curfews, a stay-at-home order for all children and a ban on foreigners entering the country have been introduced -- but infections continue to rise. The spike has been blamed on poor compliance with health protocols and the more contagious strains that are taking hold.

usr: 1
This is interesting!