Last-ditch bid launched to find saviour for BlindCraft

CITY leaders have launched a bid to find a firm to take over the running of the BlindCraft factory that is to close in two months, but have admitted that any new operation may no longer make beds.

The city council is to formally advertise the opportunity of taking over the Craigmillar facility in the hope that a voluntary firm or private company will come forward.

It is the last attempt to find a way of saving the jobs of the 35 members of staff who continue to work at the factory, which is expected to close for the last time at the end of July unless a deal is secured to save it.

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The next wave of workers to voluntarily leave the firm will finish in the coming weeks as work gradually winds down on the site after 216 years.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city's economic development leader, said that the council is open to all suggestions for saving the firm, even if it no longer continues as a bed-maker.

He said: "We are doing this last push to look for anybody that is prepared to help out with the situation. We recognise that it is a difficult time but we do think there are those out there who can help us deal with these employability issues. We are open-minded to any offers."

Council chiefs would also be willing to discuss options such as allowing any interested companies to manage the council-owned Craigmillar factory rent free.

Cllr Buchanan said: "It is the quality of the project that matters most, not the cost to the council. I genuinely hope that someone will come forward and that is why we have decided to do this market testing.

"We realise that some people will find it a great challenge in getting into a traditional workforce and that is why we are looking to our partners in the voluntary and third sectors to help. It could be a social enterprise or it could be a philanthropic individual."

Fraser Queen, branch secretary of the Community union, will leave his job on Tuesday after 23 years at the company.

He said: "There are a lot of people now deciding to leave early. It is soul-destroying for the workers left here. They know there's little hope of further employment beyond July and they're coming in but there is virtually no production happening now.

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"Even if the council do get a third party in, BlindCraft as it stands has to close first and everyone has resigned themselves to that.

"But they still have some hope that there might be a third party out there that could come up with something."