Anger as egg factory closure to leave 90 staff redundant

NINETY jobs are to be lost with the closure of a factory owned by one of the UK's biggest egg processors.

Noble Foods has announced its plans to close the plant in Loanhead in August, bringing to an end 40 years of egg processing in the town.

Local politicians have written to the company's chief executive demanding an urgent meeting over the closure.

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Although the firm said it was consulting with staff on the plans today, it would not say whether there was any hope of a reprieve.

The company said the plant was being closed because it was "no longer located near either customers or raw materials", and that job losses would affect everyone from factory workers to management.

The factory, on the Edgefield Industrial Estate, processes more than 300 million eggs a year for brands including The Happy Egg Co. and Goldenlay.

Midlothian West Councillor Owen Thompson said: "Any job losses obviously are disappointing, especially in the current financial climate, and we need to make sure that anything that can be done to minimise the effect is done. I'll be speaking to various departments in the council to make sure that help is forthcoming as much as possible from that side.

"I think there's just general disappointment in the community. I spoke to someone whose mum had worked there for a number of years and I sense that there was a good spirit between those who worked there, with people travelling from quite some distance to work there."

A spokeswoman for the firm confirmed the closure plans.

She said: "If the current plans are implemented, production on site is anticipated to cease in mid August 2010.

"The changes would result in around 90 redundancies at the site. The proposal is that the production would transfer on a phased basis to other company factories where additional jobs would be created. To minimise job losses, the company will explore opportunities for staff transfers to other sites and will also provide support for those seeking alternative employment."

Egg processing in Loanhead began more than 40 years ago with the firm HD Hardie, with Noble Foods taking over the plant in 1997. The company plans to sell the site following the closure.

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Midlothian MSP Rhona Brankin has written to the firm's chief executive, Peter Thornton, demanding a meeting with senior managers over the closure.

Ms Brankin said: "This is a bitter blow for the local area. The loss of 90 jobs would be devastating, not just for the employees but for Midlothian as a whole.

"It's not good enough for the firm to say that they are looking at the possibility of transfers to the firm's other two production sites in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire; most of the employees in Loanhead will have firm roots in the local area and upping sticks to a town 300 miles away will be a complete non-starter for them."

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