A MULTI-MILLION pound recovery plan aimed at creating 3,000 jobs in the area devastated by the closure of the Hall’s of Broxburn meat plant has been unveiled.
A further 500 people are expected to be made redundant at the West Lothian plant before Christmas, with all 1,700 jobs lost by February when the factory finally closes its doors after a phased shutdown.
The new £29 million plan unveiled by the Scottish Government and West Lothian Council is designed to create nearly twice as many new jobs.
A total of £16.6m has already been allocated through Scottish Enterprise, while new funding of up to £12m will go to training and company support.
An average of £2.4m will be invested in each of the next five years, targeting the hardest-hit communities in Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh.
It is estimated that the recovery plan will create in the region of 3,000 jobs over the next five years.
Finance secretary John Swinney said: “Our focus must be to support those people who are now losing their jobs, andthis plan will give some hope and help to those who are being made redundant at the end of this week.
“I am pleased that our efforts are already delivering tangible benefits for the people of West Lothian – with last week’s announcement by Plexus of the creation of 130 new jobs, supported by Scottish Enterprise.
“Our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace) initiative has set up resource centres to assist employees who are facing redundancy.”
Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said the firm – which had been handling 8,000 pigs each week – was losing £79,000 per day at the Hall’s of Broxburn site due to over-capacity in the UK meat industry.
The firm turned down an offer from the Scottish Government to buy and lease back the threatened food factory, saying accepting public money would only delay any potential decision regarding closure.
Two offers were made to take over the plant, but Vion confirmed in November that it would still close.
The former workforce will now be supported by funding of £5.53m, including £4.7m to meet training and other needs, while £23.6m will support economic recovery and growth, including £4m for growing companies identified by Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.
West Lothian Council leader John McGinty said: “This is a really difficult time. West Lothian Council has always made it clear that our first priority has been to Hall’s of Broxburn staff and their families.
“This week we are in the position where the plant is shedding jobs and before Christmas we are expecting a further 500 people to be made redundant – with all 1,700 jobs lost by February.”
The majority involved in the job losses are from West Lothian and this is expected to have a“severe and wide economic impact” on the area, he added.
“In addition, the plan aims to provide support and advice for Hall’s staff to help them to maximise their opportunities to retrain or find employment in the future,” he said.