Still in the dark over future of Sheerness Thamesteel a year after closure
Snow on the roof of
Thamesteel in Sheerness - it would have been too hot for the white
stuff to settle when the plant was open
by Emma Grove
A year after Thamesteel went into administration, there is
still no news on what its future holds.
The mill, in Brielle Way, Sheerness,
closed on January 25 last year - leaving 350 people
without a job or a month's wages.
Former owners the Al-Tuwairqi Group (ATG) took it back over
in June, but since then there has been no news on what will happen
to it except that it could cost up to £30million to decontaminate
Members of Community Union, which represents the workers, even
wrote an open letter to ATG chairman Dr Hilal Al-Tuwairqi asking
what his intentions are for the site, but he failed to respond.
"I always feel very sad to look at it – it's dispiriting to see a plant that was quite vibrant not that long ago now dead...” – Gordon Henderson MP
Rumours about other takeovers have been quashed and numerous
meetings at various government departments have taken place, but
still no one knows what is happening.
A legal dispute about ownership of the assets is ongoing between
Peel Land and Property, which owns the site, and ATG - but it
is unclear when this will be resolved.
There are still around 250 outstanding unfair dismissal
claims filed by Community on behalf of the staff who lost
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he is still
writing to relevant people and meeting ministers to try to get
answers, but he feels it is very unlikely the mill will ever
He said: "There's no more positive news. I'm in the process of
trying to arrange a meeting with the ATG solicitors, who appear to
be the only contacts we have here.
"The longer the legal action takes, it means ATG can't remove
its fixed assets, and there's no doubt the site is deteriorating
and costs are going up."
Workers leave Thamesteel
after a meeting with bosses
Mr Henderson said he is almost "beyond disappointment" now,
adding it is sad to see the mill as it is now.
He is still working hard to ensure it is used for some other
form of industry that will employ Islanders.
Mr Henderson added: "We are going to carry on trying as a
steelworks, but it is my responsibility to look beyond that and say
'what if we can't?'
"As an Islander, I always feel very sad to look at it – it's
dispiriting to see a plant that was quite vibrant not that long ago
Community Union branch secretary Pat Wiggins said he understands
there is another investor who is waiting to see what happens with
the court case, but he thinks there is a slim chance of something
He said: "We would have hoped something would have happened by
now, but we have to keep the pressure on."
Former Thamesteel worker
Anthony Clements with his P45
Former worker Anthony Clements said it is disheartening to see
the mill, but he doesn't think it will ever reopen.
The 51-year-old, of Invicta Road, Sheerness, was at the mill for
23 years and now works at Ridham Dock.
He said: "I would have said if anything was going to happen with
it starting up, it would have happened. I’m hopeful, but the more
the wrangle goes on, the less likely it is.
"It's very saddening to know that the workforce and some of the
equipment is world-class – it just needs some investment."
A Peel Land and Property spokesman said no one was
available to comment about the legal proceedings it launched
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