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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
Church service for Ebbw Vale steelworks
Ebbw Vale steelworks
The Ebbw Vale steelworks will shut in July
A special church service is to be held on Wednesday to commemorate the Ebbw Vale steelworks, which will close in July.

Steelworkers and ex-employees will join in prayers to remember what the steelworks has meant for the town.

Rail link
The rail link was announced in January
Prayers will be also be said seeking help to ask for help to regenerate the area.

Employment is already the highest in Wales - and another 500 men will soon be out of work.

The decision to shut the sprawling Gwent plant formed part of Corus's major restructuing plans to shed 6,050 staff around the UK in February 2001.

The Anglo-Dutch company - formerly British Steel - said it would lay off 3,000 posts at four sites around Wales in a move designed to slash costs in the face of cheap foreign competition.

In a bid to find jobs, some workers have already been forced away from the Valleys, and even abroad, with some men taking posts at the IJmuiden steel plant in Holland.

Regeneration package

To combat the cuts, the Welsh Assembly announced a package of measures to boost the area in January 2002.

The assembly is working with employment agencies to develop a 76m re-training package, and a passenger railway link is also to be reopened between Ebbw Vale and Cardiff.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan announced the rail link, and committed 7m over two years towards the 15m project.

Although he admitted that "nothing can take away the body blow suffered by the steel-making communities of Wales" with the Corus cuts, Mr Morgan did herald the regeneration package as a "reason for optimism" within the communities.

See also:

27 Mar 02 | Wales
Steelmen forced to go Dutch
10 Sep 01 | Business
Corus losses hit 230m
02 Aug 01 | Business
'Dr Death' takes charge at Corus
19 Apr 01 | Wales
Steel giant rescue bid fails
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