Hefina Headon – Heart of our Valleys

A Seven Sisters woman who organised community support during the year long Miners Strike of 1984-5 has been hailed by Neath MP for being a ‘heart of our Valleys’.

Hefina Headon died a week ago after a long illness and her funeral will be held at Llwydcoed Crematorium this Thursday.

In a tribute Peter Hain said: ‘Like me, many local people were very sad to learn of Hefina’s death after a serious illness.

‘Her service to the community and the Labour Party was fantastic and many were in debt to her for her hard work and care for others. As a Labour stalwart, Hefina served as Treasurer of the Seven Sisters Branch and was an active ward member. She also showed me tremendous personal support for which I will forever be grateful. I will always remember with great fondness Hefina holding the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley Women’s Support Group banner from the 1986-5 Miners Strike outside Parliament when I was first introduced as Neath’s MP.

‘I know of the tireless activity she undertook during the strike to support the miners and their families who were then suffering so badly. The courage and determination she showed with many other local women was an inspiration at a terrible time. For this vital contribution and all her other selfless community work, her name will stand proud forever. She was a heart of our Welsh Valley communities, such a colourful, outgoing character that she brought so much bubbly happiness to everyone with whom she came into contact.’

The funeral will be at Llwydcoed Crematorium on Thursday October 17 at 12 noon.

Hain encouraged by New Investor Interest in Unity Mine

Further to yesterday’s announcement regarding Unity Mine Neath MP Peter Hain has today said,

‘I do not want to raise false hopes because the miners are in a dire predicament, but I have today been approached by a potential investor whom I have introduced to Unity Mine management. They have in turn informed me of several other potential investors interested in rescuing Unity from administration. The truth is investors can see that Unity could have a great future since it has massive reserves of the highest quality anthracite in the world.’

Peter Hain Statement on Unity Mine

Following the announcement today (10th October) by Unity Mine, Neath MP Peter Hain said,

‘Although this is deeply worrying, especially for the workforce and their families, I understand that key discussions are taking place imminently and Unity management are hopeful to secure the necessary investment to take the Unity away from administration and back into production. I am disappointed that recent discussions on grant aid did not succeed and I hope that these can be resurrected. I have also been working hard with Unity, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, the National Grid and others to expedite outstanding planning and licensing problems because these have frustratingly discouraged new investors. Unity remains a vital and exciting project and everyone must do everything to ensure it can both be saved and can move forward because not only 250 existing jobs are at stake but potentially many more too.’

Statement on Gleision Announcement

Following today’s announcement by South Wales Police that the Directors and the Manager of the Gleision Mine in the Swansea Valley are facing criminal charges for corporate manslaughter and other offences, Neath MP and former Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain said:

“After such a devastating tragedy, the families and our communities have naturally been anxious to discover why and how the four local miners were killed. This prosecution will enable the truth to be revealed for the first time. The mystery to me was how on earth the men were working a coal seam heading straight for old underground mine workings towards an area which they must surely have seen marked on their plan “underground water”. When I was shown the plan outside the mine during the rescue and recovery operation I was aghast. This unanswered question, amongst many others about the tragedy, still haunts the families and many of us who have worked to support them.”

‘Productive’ meeting over future of Neath Valley Mines

Neath MP Peter Hain has described a meeting between Vince Cable and representatives from Aberpergwm and Unity Mine as ‘productive.’ Mr Hain called for the urgent meeting after Walter Energy, Aberpergwm announced it was entering a ninety day consultation and activity at the mine would be suspended, affecting 270 employees.

Mr Hain along with representatives from Aberpergwm and Unity mines spoke with the Secretary of State for Business to secure the future of the two mines that have been affected by the lack of confidence in the British economy and the current slump in the price of coal.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Hain said, “The meeting with the Business Secretary on the future of two of the biggest employers in the area was constructive. Whilst no immediate Government help was promised the Business Secretary made a number of suggestions on options to explore in the future.

“Both Aberpergwm and Unity are vital employers in the area producing the highest quality anthracite in the world and providing well paid skilled jobs. The lack of confidence in the British economy and slump in the price of coal will not only affect the nearly 500 people currently employed by the two mines but many hundreds of extra job opportunities including the apprenticeships that both mines offer. This would have devastating knock on effects on the local community which is why the meeting with the Business Secretary was so crucial. The UK Government must deliver better policies.

“The two mines have promising futures with vast reserves of the highest quality anthracite in the world but they need help over this rocky period until the investment climate and the British economy improves. I’ll continue to work with them to secure the future of the two operations.”

Both mines have grown over the last few years with a renaissance in coal, supplying Tata Steel and Aberthaw power station.