Regeneration of former coalfield areas ‘will cost at least £40m’

The last shift: Miners in the lamp room after thier last shift, as deep coal mining comes to an end in the UK at Kellingley Colliery.   18 December 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
The last shift: Miners in the lamp room after thier last shift, as deep coal mining comes to an end in the UK at Kellingley Colliery. 18 December 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson

A masterplan to turn around the fortunes of former coalfield areas that never recovered from colliery closures has been revealed.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which supports former mining communities across the country, has called for a ringfenced £40m fund. It said investing in new industrial and commercial property in former coalfield communities would create jobs and longer-term aspirations for residents.

Prince of Wales Colliery

Prince of Wales Colliery

The Wakefield district was hit hard by the collapse of the industry.

It had the largest number of collieries in Yorkshire at the beginning of the miners’ strike in 1984 with 16, or 18 if Allerton Bywater and Emley are taken into account. Research by the trust found there are fewer jobs, pay is lower and more people have to claim benefits in former coal mining areas.

Launching the new strategy trust chief executive Gary Ellis said: “These communities have struggled, and many would say have been forgotten.

“Becoming a battleground during the election, it’s time for the promises that have been made to be put into practice.”

He wants funds to support people back into work, develop the skills and qualifications, and provide access to activities that will improve their health and wellbeing.

He said: “It’s not good enough to turn our back on the coalfields. There are 5.7m people living in these communities. Residents could be contributing to the economic prosperity of the UK, but instead they remain within the 30 per cent most deprived in the country.

“We have the evidence, we have the plans, we have a tried and tested model, we have the partners, we now need government funding to scale up our activities and create a dedicated Coalfield Investment Fund that will be used to make a life changing difference to millions of people.”