Could Donald Trump's infamous wall be built by a Sheffield firm?
It is one of President Donald Trump's most controversial policies - but his planned wall along the Mexican border could be good news for a Sheffield company.
For Sheffield based security fence company Betafence could be in the running to build the controversial 1,900 mile structure - although the firm is remaining tight lipped on any potential involvement in the scheme.
The new US President has vowed that work on the structure will begin ‘within months’ as he aims to carry through his plan to toughen up US borders with Mexico.
Betafence, which describes itself as a world market leader in perimeter security systems, has its only British factory in Sheffield and is also the parent company to Hesco in Leeds, which helps provide security fences to Government agencies and defensive barriers for use in warzones.
Betafence proudly boasts on its website about its work on building security fences on the US-Mexico border, while company bosses indicated prior to the election they were hopeful of gaining more business should Trump win.
Sheffield is the last remaining UK site Betafence has after the Belgian firm closed premises in Wigan in 2009.
Barriers already cover around 650 miles of the American-Mexican border but Trump made the creation of a wall running the length of the boundary one of his key campaign pledges.
Following his election in November, Trump said some of the ‘wall’ would likely be fencing.
Prior to the US election last year, Aaron Cope, Betafence’s director of sales for North America, admitted the company could gain more business if Trump won.
“In North America, we are so far behind in physical security compared with the rest of the world,” he said.
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory in November a company spokesman was slightly more circumspect, telling the Wall Street Journal it was ‘too early’ to comment on what his election would mean for their prospects. “We are a high-security company and we don’t really like to comment on what our business is doing,” he said.
Betafence has not responded to requests from our sister title the Yorkshire Post for comment in relation to its potential involvement in the building of the wall or whether it had been in contact with the Trump administration.
Hesco says it is ‘unable’ to answer questions about the issues.
Betafence, which employs 1,400 people around the world, has already been involved in building security fences on the US-Mexico border, as well as in Hong Kong and the UAE.
On the firm's website, a statement says: “Betafence is positioned as a global provider of high security perimeter fencing solutions.
"Our experienced project management teams have provided complete border protection solutions for governments around the world, specialising in rugged terrain and long-distance projects.
“In today’s age of turmoil and global conflict, international borders are becoming increasingly vulnerable to circumvention and even targeted by armed groups. The growing threat of terrorism, smuggling, illegal immigration and random crime have made protecting borders a top priority for most governments.
“At Betafence, our mission is to provide proven solutions to help protect your critical borders. Our hardened perimeter fencing systems control access, and deter, detect, delay and even protect against physical attacks.
The Wall Street Journal said Arizona senator Steve Smith revealed Betafence has a long-standing interest in the building of a extended physical border with Mexico.
Mr Smith said it was among the companies that contacted him after he started campaigning to raise money for such a border back in 2011.
Betafence announced before Christmas it was planning to cut more than 100 jobs at its Sheffield site as part of ‘restructuring plans’ that will see the end of some cable and wire manufacturing processes at the site and investment in automated machines.
In the announcement, Christopher Morris, managing director of Betafence’s UK operations, said the company would be focusing ‘all our efforts on the areas of the current UK business which continue to deliver value’ - including ‘perimeter protection’.