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Sheerness steelworks to re-open

Sheerness Steel Mill as it was in 2013, after the site had closed. Photo Chris Whippet/Geograph (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

In a complete U-turn, the industrial consortium Liberty House has stopped demolition of the Sheerness steelworks in Kent. It now plans to renovate and re-open them by summer 2017.

Thamesteel closed the site in 2012 with the loss of 350 jobs after a sad history. The plant had been sold off in the privatisation of British Steel; it went to Canadian and then Arab owners. Before Thamesteel closed, the witch hunt against trade unionists in ISTC (later Community) at the plant was a national scandal. US-style union busting tactics and heavy handed threats to individuals and the community were documented by workers. Closure in 2012 demonstrated the managerial failure at the steelworks.

Liberty House bought the site in early 2016 with a view to asset stripping and relocating equipment to its plants in Scotland and South Wales. The U-turn opens up the possibility of the rolling mills at Sheerness handling up to 750,000 tonnes of steel a year. The local Peel Ports docks right next door to the site has export facilities. The hope is for the re-employment of skilled steelworkers sacked in 2012. Initially there are jobs for just 60 workers but this marks a significant resurgence of industry at Sheerness.