Ashfield District Council leader slams Prime Minister's 'abhorrent' comments on mine closures
The leader of Ashfield District Council has called for north Nottinghamshire’s Conservative MPs to publicly distance themselves from comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the closure of coalmines in the 1980s.
The closure of the pits devastated communities across areas like Ashfield in the 1980s.
Mr Johnson made his comments this week during a visit to Scotland, ahead of the COP26 climate change summit later this year.
His comments came when reporters asked him if he would set a deadline for ending fossil fuel extraction.
He said: “Look at what we’ve done already, we've transitioned away from coal in my lifetime.
"Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”
Council leader Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind) said: “The comments made by the Prime Minister are an insult to every resident in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire and the UK.
"It was crass, insensitive and downright abhorrent.
"The Prime Minister has not only shown contempt for mining communities like ours – but he has snatched away any semblance of dignity for those shafted at the coalface, shafted with their pensions and now sneered at by a Prime Minister who is so out of touch with communities like ours.
"The Tories mask has slipped and they don’t look like anyone in Nottinghamshire.
This latest incident comes at a time when there is already great anger in the mining communities over the ongoing pensions scandal after the Government refused recommendations of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee on the Mineworkers Pension Scheme and hand back the £1.2 billion investment reserve – a deficit fund left by British Coal – to ex-miners.
Coun Zadrozny has now written to Lee Anderson MP (Ashfield), Ben Bradley MP (Mansfield), Mark Spencer MP (Hucknall) and Graham Brady MP, chairman of the influential 1922 committee of Tory backbench MPs, demanding they immediately distance themselves from Mr Johnson’s words.
In his letter, he said: “The closure of our pits had a devastating impact on tens of thousands of lives in Nottinghamshire.
"It has been estimated that since the miner’s strike, some 25,000 miners have died in Nottinghamshire – the vast majority of them prematurely.
"There are still an estimated 29,500 still alive in this county – a significant portion of them still suffering from respiratory diseases and other injuries because of the impact of a life at the coalface.
“As the leader of Ashfield District Council, I am utterly appalled that the current Prime Minister can just laugh off the impact that decisions of previous Conservative Governments had on communities like ours.
"Thousands of ex-miners lent you their vote on December 12, 2019 in the belief that the Conservatives had changed.
“I am therefore giving you the opportunity to publicly apologise for the statement made by the Prime Minister and to publicly distance yourself from the Prime Ministers’ abhorrent comments.”
Coun Zadrozny has also written to Mr Brady to ask him to instigate proceedings for Mr Johnson’s resignation unless he ‘retracts his comments and issues an apology to all miners, ex-miners, their families and communities who were devastated by the decisions of the Conservatives’.