Miners’ strike 40 years on: call to halt £100,000 funding cut to coalfield trust

The Scottish Government has been urged to reverse a damaging cut in funding to coalfield communities as the 40th anniversary of the start of the miners’ strike looms large.
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The impact of the year-long action was profound on communities across Fife, and led to the closure of the industry. Now, four decades on, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust - set up in 1999 to tackle the long standing social and economic consequences - is fighting to stop a £100,000 grant cut which is said was a “vital source of funding” and it is backed by Fife MSP, Alex Rowley.

It wants the Scottish Government to reverse the cut from its Change Scottish Government procurement rules, and provide a capital endowment fund to the trust to allow it to build industrial units for SMEs, generating jobs and economic growth.

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It has been backed in a joint letter signed by charities, councillors and community organisations in Scotland’s former coalfield communities supported. A debate was led by Mr Rowley in the Scottish Parliament before Christmas, and there was cross-party agreement with SNP, Labour and Conservative MSPs speaking in support of the trust.

Striking miners march back to work at the end of a year long dispute at Kirkcaldy's Frances Colliery in 1985 (Pic: Fife Free Press)Striking miners march back to work at the end of a year long dispute at Kirkcaldy's Frances Colliery in 1985 (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Striking miners march back to work at the end of a year long dispute at Kirkcaldy's Frances Colliery in 1985 (Pic: Fife Free Press)

Mr Rowley, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: “It is now more crucial than ever that funding is prioritised where it will have the greatest impact. Former coalfield communities still have some of the highest levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland and, in my experience of representing such communities over many years, the payback for a small amount of resource and finance can be significant.”

He was backed by Tory MSP, Alexander Stewart , who said: “It was right that previous cuts that were talked about back in 2011 were reversed. More than a decade later, the trust is doing so much important work. It cannot lose that funding, because that will have a massive impact.”

The trust said it recognised the challenging financial situation faced by the Scottish Government and has come up with what it said was “an innovative and proven plan” to create a sustainable income stream.

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It has created a self-sustaining funding model based on the development of industrial starter units for SMEs. This would create jobs and economic growth in deprived former coalfield communities while also generating a sustainable, long term income stream for the trust’s charitable work. This model has been successfully used to fund the CRT’s work in England for a number of years.

The CRT now wants to work with the Scottish Government to create a capital endowment to deliver this successful model in order to support Scotland’s former coalfield communities.

Nicky Wilson, vice-chair,: “As we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1984-85 miners’ strike in 2024, the damage following the closure of the mining industry continues to impact Scotland’s former coalfield communities.

“On a number of poverty, health and skills measures the challenges facing former coalfields are twice as bad as the Scottish average. “In this crucial anniversary year, we look forward to working with Local Government, Empowerment and Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP to create a capital endowment which will give a sustainable funding stream to address these deep and significant issues in the former coalfields.”