Pit closure plan was a real ‘body blow’

NUM officials Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne outside Kellingely Colliery.
NUM officials Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne outside Kellingely Colliery.
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MINING Union reps Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne have spent more than 50 years working at Kellingley.

They’ve become used to speculation about the future of the colliery and its owners UK Coal. But the announcement on Wednesday that the company planned to shut the North Yorkshire site, as well as one in Thoresby, Nottinghamshire, still came as a bolt out of the blue.

NUM Kellingley branch secretary Keith Poulson, 54, has worked at Kellingley since 1988, following the closure of South Kirkby colliery.

When the branch heard an announcement was coming, they thought UK Coal had finally secured investment that would ensure the future of the pit.

But instead, it is seeking funding for an 18-month managed closure of the site.

“To find out we were looking at closure in 18 moths was a shock. Our members are devastated.

“We had the next 20 years mapped out at Kellingley - the reserves are there.”

The focus for the branch now is to keep its members employed for as long as possible, and Mr Poulson said they will do “whatever it takes” to keep working.

More than 100 members of the union were due to meet last night at Kellingley Club in Knottingley.

Keith Hartshorne, NUM delegate at Kellingley and Yorkshire vice chairman said: “We have a vast range of work force, from men who are 60 to whom closure won’t come as such a hardship, but we have young lads and apprentices who were taken on as late as January this year.

“It’s come a real body blow for them.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper will meet NUM officials in Kellingley today.

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