A CONSORTIUM wants to revive the closed Hall’s meat processing plant in Broxburn as an abattoir.
A group of Glasgow-based businessmen have claimed they can create 1000 jobs at the vacant factory within three years under a business case put to West Lothian Council and Scottish Enterprise.
The daring bid has been spearheaded by CDR managing director George Elliott, who said the plant could be made financially viable in a move he promised would kick-start the region’s ailing jobs market.
About 1700 people lost their jobs when Dutch owner Vion shut the factory in February.
Vion is understood to be seeking £2 million for the site. The food processing firm, which intends to demolish the buildings at Hall’s, has put the property on the market.
A £29m recovery package was announced by the Scottish Government to help redundant workers. Of that, £4m has been set aside to support growing companies.
Mr Elliott said the consortium was willing to lease the site from West Lothian Council if a fraction of the funding package was used to buy the existing factory. He said production could be started within less than a month of obtaining the plant.
Mr Elliott said: “We want to save the jobs in Broxburn. We think the site is a very good abattoir site. Almost immediately, we could start with about 150 to 200 jobs. It’s fair to say the reason why it previously lost money was down to pure mismanagement.”
Mr Elliott said the presence of on-site petrochemicals, arsenic and asbestos would severely limit alternate uses for the Hall’s site.
The consortium was one of two groups, alongside private equity firm Graf Mortgage Corporation, which bid to buy the factory late last year. Vion rejected both offers, choosing to instead shut the plant.
Council executives have held meetings with Mr Elliott, but are yet to publicly back the project. A spokesman said the council would consider “viable and sustainable business plans”, but added: “We are not aware of a finalised business plan being submitted for the Vion site in Broxburn.”
Broxburn ward councillor Janet Campbell questioned why the council was delaying given the number of jobs the plan would create. She said: “It’s the most up-to-date slaughterhouse in Scotland, if not the United Kingdom, and we’re going to lose it unless we step in now and do something.”
VION LISTENING TO OFFERS
DUTCH firm Vion has claimed it is considering a number of offers for the Hall’s factory site.
The company yesterday refused to comment on whether it would allow the property to be returned to use as a meat processing plant.
However, a spokesman for Vion UK, said: “A number of interested parties have submitted offers for the Hall’s site and these are currently being assessed.
“For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we are unable to divulge the identity of the parties concerned or the details of their individual offers.”
The food giant had originally been urged by West Lothian Council to donate the site – which dates back to 1932 – to help with the regeneration of the region’s economy, but is instead selling the property.