News

Presbyterian Church of Wales
Wednesday 12. 06. 24
News: for immediate Release
Port Talbot: Murder of a Steel Town, says Church Leader

The Presbyterian Church of Wales is calling on the UK government to prioritise the needs of Port Talbot in the build-up to the general election on 4 July. Tata Steel, the owners of the town’s steelworks, has already announced job cuts of 2,800 as it transitions to a more environmentally friendly means of production. There are fears, however, that these cuts will lead ultimately to the closure of the plant with devastating consequences for the town and area. One local church leader is calling it the murder of a steel town.

At a recent meeting of the Morgannwg Llundain Presbytery, members issued a call to elected representatives in Westminster and Cardiff Bay to do much more for the steelworkers, their families and the wider community.

Margaret Jones, a resident of the town and member of the Presbytery, said:

‘I have lived in this town all my life and the steelworks is foundational to its life and prosperity. For decades we’ve put up with the pollution from the plant on the basis of permanent jobs and good wages. We feel badly let down by Tata and the UK and Welsh governments. The impact on thousands of workers and their families could be ruinous and we feel that much more should be done to save jobs and save the town. Port Talbot is known world wide for its steel and British steel is reputed to be the best in the world. This is simply about money and Tata is boosting its profits by using inferior steel from other places and ignoring the expertise that is here in Wales. BBC Wales recently broadcast a TV series called Steeltown Murders, about a brutal killing in Port Talbot in the 1970s. I’ve been thinking about that programme, and I feel that what they are doing to Port Talbot now is killing people’s livelihoods and hope. This is the murder of a steel town.’

Margaret is also involved in the town’s foodbank, a voluntary service supported by Port Talbot’s various churches. It has several hundred customers and Margaret has noticed a rise in demand in recent months.

‘When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to talk about the days of the great depression, when chronic poverty was rife and soup kitchens were the only means of obtaining food for many people. She used to say to me, “Margaret, be thankful that these soup kitchens are a thing of the past and you’ll never see those days again.” It seems to me now that foodbanks are the new soup kitchens. Many working people simply can’t afford to live, and this can’t be right in a prosperous society like ours.

‘As Christians, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus who taught us to love each other practically and gave us a vision for a society where everyone is equal. We’re playing our part, but this town also needs government and industry to set aside their own interests and think about the needs of this town’.

A number of Christians from Port Talbot, including Maragaret Jones, can be seen being interviewed on this new video from the Presbyterian Church of Wales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JlOr8Qmtqs

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