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Task force begins search for buyer

Ewing pledge: ‘We won’t give up on steel industry’

DalzellA new pledge was made today to find a buyer for two threatened Scottish steelworks.

The Scottish Steel Task Force, a government response to the crisis in the industry, met for the first time today and agreed to seek an alternative operator for Tata Steel’s plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge where 270 workers have just days to save their jobs.

Business Minister Fergus Ewing chaired the meeting in Hamilton hosted by South Lanarkshire Council and promised that the Scottish government “would not give up on the steel industry”.

He said: “Today’s first meeting of the Task Force was a chance for all members to agree that our primary focus is to secure an alternative operator for the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants and retain as many jobs as possible.

“Tata Steel gave an update on global market conditions, the challenges it faces in its UK operations and its commitment to work with the Task Force to find a viable future for the business. We also heard the optimism and determination of the trade unions to maintain a viable steel industry.

“The Task Force heard of the work that Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and other parties have been doing with the company to find a positive outcome.

“The Scottish Government has been looking urgently at what more we can do to help, on issues like business rates, energy efficiency and generation, how to cut operating costs at the plants and considering the public procurement of steel in our forward infrastructure investment programme.”

Mr Ewing added that Scottish Development International now has a prospectus to take to potential operators around the world, to seek out and connect with untapped businesses and investors.

“All members of the Task Force agreed we will not give up on our steel industry and we will work urgently across all fronts to meet our aims.”

Eddie McAvoy, South Lanarkshire Council leader, said: “We were glad to be able to host this first meeting of the task force. If the proposed closures go ahead it will have a devastating impact, not just on the workers involved and their families but on the wider communities.

“The best outcome would be if we can help find a way to keep these two important steel plants open.”

The Task Force will meet again on 13 November hosted by North Lanarkshire Council.

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