Posted: Tue 14th Mar 2023

Former MP who fought to save Shotton Steel Works to receive Freedom of the County from Flintshire Council

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Mar 14th, 2023

Flintshire Council is to bestow the Freedom of the County Borough upon Lord Barry Jones, a former MP who fought to save Shotton Steel Works and thousands of jobs.

Lord Jones served as a Labour Party politician from 1970 to 2001 and is being recognised for his 52 years of dedicated public service as a parliamentarian and ongoing service to the communities of Flintshire.

This month marks the 43rd anniversary of Deeside’s darkest day, when British Steel axed 6,500 jobs at Shotton Steel after a decade of battling union and political pressure.

Lord Jones, who also held a number of positions within the region, including President of the Deeside Business Forum and Chancellor of Glyndŵr University, was the MP for East Flintshire at the time of the closure.

He worked tirelessly with the works action committee to save jobs and the steelworks, taking their fight to Westminster to prevent devastating job losses and the end of 78 years of steel-making in Shotton.

The closure of Shotton Steel was the biggest overnight redundancy in Europe and had a profound impact on the region.

Whole families found themselves without work, and for many, there was little prospect of finding new employment.

The closure led to mass unemployment and had a devastating effect on the social and economic fabric of the area.

Tata Shotton

Although steel production ended in 1980, the Shotton Steel site continued to evolve and remain relevant to the changing needs of the market.

Tata Steel, which now owns the site, manufactures metallic coated and prepainted coil steel goods, which are used for a range of applications such as roofing, cladding, and appliances.

The site has also developed a niche in high-strength steel for car parts, which require both durability and lightweight design.

Despite facing challenges such as competition from cheaper imports and the impact of Brexit on trade, Shotton has managed to maintain a steady output of steel products and retain a skilled workforce of around 700 employees.

Deeside has also retained its position as a centre of manufacturing excellence, with many successful companies based in the area including heavyweights such as Airbus and Toyota.

Highest accolade

The Council Chamber at County Hall was previously intended to be renamed ‘The Lord Barry Jones Council Chamber’ to mark this achievement, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event could not take place.

The Freedom of the County Borough is the highest accolade that a County Borough Council can bestow, an honour reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to the area.

The title of Honorary Freemen or Honorary Freewomen in Flintshire is purely honorary and does not confer any special rights or privileges.

A resolution to admit Honorary Freemen or Honorary Freewomen must be passed at a specially convened meeting of the Council, which will take place on Friday, 17th March at County Hall in Mold.

The renaming ceremony will also take place on the same day, where the Council Chamber will be officially renamed as ‘The Lord Barry Jones Council Chamber’.

 

[Image: Shotton Steel march – prints-online.com]

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