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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 18:54 GMT
'Jobs not our job' says task force
John Hamilton
John Hamilton: Manufacturing jobs are unrealistic
The head of a task force set up 18 months ago after the closure of a Weardale cement plant, says people should not expect it to create new jobs.

The Blue Circle cement works, owned by French company Lafarge, closed in August 2002 with the loss of 150 jobs.

A task force was established with the aim of creating hundreds of new jobs around the small community of Eastgate, near Stanhope in County Durham.

But plans to regenerate the area have been criticised as being impractical.

Among these was a proposal for a new model village with hot springs, tapped from 2,000 feet underground and a plan to train former workers as beekeepers.

The latest proposals are thought to involve the creation of an alternative energy complex, although no firm plans have been submitted.

We need to be thinking of new jobs and we need to be more revolutionary
John Hamilton, Upper Weardale task force

Now the chairman of the task force, which comprises various bodies including regeneration agency One NorthEast, Durham County Council, and Wear Valley District Council, says it should not be expected to create new jobs.

John Hamilton said: "No jobs have been created and it is not really the task force's job to create jobs. It can only make the conditions.

"Manufacturing is declining all over and it is not realistic to think we are going to get the old kind of manufacturing jobs.

"We need to be thinking of new jobs and we need to be more revolutionary and that is one example of what can happen."

But Durham county councillor John Shuttleworth hit out at the work of the task force.

He said: "There has not been enough investment since the cement works closed.

"We need real jobs here, not low-paid tourism jobs which are seasonal.

"There needs to be some serious government funding. The ongoing situation and the rising cost of housing is forcing out locals and young people."

The BBC's Ian Reeve
"Residents of Eastgate are unimpressed"

Lafarge to buy Blue Circle
08 Jan 01  |  Business
Cement giant 'open to offers'
11 Sep 00  |  Business

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