Comments for en-gb 30 Wed 06 May 2015 17:08:07 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at LippyLippo Hearing the weasel words of public-sector worthies and journalists on BBC Kent this morning just about made my blood boil. Their jobs, of course, are not affected by this closure. Bad news is good news for them. They can stand there and pontificate about how East Kent will carry on, and about how it might be a good thing for the area, and about the possible influx of smaller companies… yadda yadda yadda. Meanwhile, at least 2500 real people face having their jobs taken, their lives turned upside down, their houses repossessed, their families made to suffer in a society that values money more than anything, whilst making obtaining that money by legal means increasingly impossible. A lab manager on 35,000 a year for example. I realise that MPs and the high-ranking officials probably spend that amount on a holiday, but where else in East Kent can you earn that sort of money? Wiping tables for tourists? Picking tomatoes? Care homes run by the private sector with state money that only profit by paying workers low wages and giving them non public-sector benefits? Stacking supermarket shelves full of foreign-made goods? Hmm. Even the public sector is contracting. What unemployment means is hardship, worry, misery, sleepless nights, debt collectors, loss of pride, possible family break-up… I could go on and believe me I speak from bitter experience. I don’t suggest that everyone wallows in misery, but please don’t just gloss over the inconvenient details and look at some rosy imaginary future far, far away over the horizon. This area was deprived even with Pfizer, yet the council still continues with its policy of taxing businesses into overdraft, jacking up parking charges, and basically making life impossible for the very businesses that it hopes are going to fill the void. It’s time for those in charge to come out of their ivory towers, start rolling up their sleeves and earning their wages. Fri 04 Feb 2011 09:23:54 GMT+1 lettertoread Dear Louise,I've decided to create a blog to document the closure of Pfizer Sandwich from a human point of view, day by day. Let's see for how long we go. The Blog is called "Letter to Read" where I will write "a letter a day" to Ian Read, Pfizer's CEO. hope that you will help disseminating this. It is intended to be realistic, kind of sad and funny (if we can!) at the same time. No flames allowed. Economic decisions have human consequences...Thanks,Letter to Read Thu 03 Feb 2011 10:01:43 GMT+1 goodideas The Medical Research Council wants to build a big lab in central London. Lots of people don't think this is a good idea. How about asking the government to examine the case for locating the MRC lab in Thanet? Wed 02 Feb 2011 22:53:13 GMT+1 johnandrews1963 Ingy, is there really any point in bashing the local mp? What could Laura Sandys say? " I am doing nothing and it’s just tough luck"? Of course as an elected representative she has to try and help, even if at this stage it is only with words of support. Pfizer is a private company which made a unilateral decision that will save them billions. All anyone can do now is try and find another use for the site. The government could have offered millions to Pfizer but that would not have changed their decision. This has been on the cards since 2007, but I suspect it happened sooner than most anticipated. In reality the "highly qualified" workers from Pfizer will have a better chance than most at finding new employment (in many places around the country or around the globe), but the service sector comprising of part time and minimum wage earners around Dover and Thanet will really suffer. IF the spotlight can be kept on East Kent and some real initiatives to aid regeneration come from this then at least the closure will have served for something.Central Government always seem to act behind the curve. We will see the completion of the East Kent access road next year, just as Pfizer closes, High Speed 1 services Canterbury and Ashford ( the more affluent parts of the area) but doesn't reach Dover or Ramsgate (well it does reach but only in a slow version), Manston or Boris Island airport projects haven’t taken off (sorry) because of nimpyism, the lower Thames crossing is very over due............ Someone needs to start coordinating nationally rather than on a departmental or regional basis. If ever joined up government was required, now is the time. Wed 02 Feb 2011 20:02:18 GMT+1 ingy With most biotech start-ups employing only handfuls of staff each it's going to take a unimaginable effort to find any more than a token level of gainful employment for the hundreds who will be cast aside by Pfizer in Sandwich.I feel that it is highly disingenuous of Laura Sandys MP to jump on this band-wagon and pretend to be able to do anything at this stage... Wed 02 Feb 2011 19:12:23 GMT+1 Kirk Re: comment from Jim (No. 10)I was affected by both the Glaxo takeover of Wellcome and the subsequent closure of the Dartford site. At the time both generated huge amounts of news copy internationlly, natinally and locally. I left Dartford in 1999, with the message still ringing in my ears that the site would be closed within 3 years. That did not happen. The closure dragged out for a lot longer than that and when that happens people in the media get bored and move onto the next big story.Unfortunately I am also affected by this current closure as well. Whilst the closure is currently generating plenty of news copy the interest will subside. By the end of this month only those people directly affected by the closure will be discussing it.As to the level of job losses, they are comparable. Although a figure of 2400 has been quoted in the press there at many more contractors and support functions also affected. At GW there was about 3000 people affected. At Sandwich the actual figure is much higher than that. Wed 02 Feb 2011 14:02:09 GMT+1 Jim Why the fuss just about Pfizer?I don't remember the same amount of news copy being made when Glaxo announced the closure of it's sites at Dartford and Beckenham with the loss of even more jobs than in east Kent Wed 02 Feb 2011 10:30:34 GMT+1 Drahcir44 Dare I suggest that the solution is in the problem, namely that Pfizer is restructuring because of the loss of income from its patents. Why cannot the plant be turned into a factory for production of generic pharmaceuticals (as it once was for patent products), the profit from which can be re-invested in R&D. And where will be money come from? The one area of the UK budget which is protected is the foreign aid budget. And what is one of the greatest foreign needs? Access to genuine cheap or free medicine. This I suggest should be on the agenda for MP Sandys committee which should be expanded to include adjacent constituencies (where most employees live), EU institutions (including MEPs and its foreign aid arm ), and NGOs (including the Gates Foundation which is committed to the disease eradication). A local crisis could become a global opportunity. Wed 02 Feb 2011 10:19:07 GMT+1 hsdeal blogspot com For over a year campaigners have been lobbying MP's and KCC to persuade Southeastern to stop the existing empty highspeed trains which pass through Sandwich and Deal everyday to be included into the highspeed network and encourage job growth and inward investment into East Kent. This is just one small initiative so easy to accomplish and yet no progress has been made from MP's or KCC.We need the basic infrastructure and support for the East Kent economy to flourish and not sink into the abyss. Lets stop concentrating on the 'Peoples Port' and get the highspeed extension, turn Manston Airport into a major hub and improve the road network. Wed 02 Feb 2011 09:34:16 GMT+1 N3tw0rk5 It's now only a few months away till the AZ site closes in Loughborough, we have heard very little from the local goverment about what initiatives are in place to lessen the blow to the area.The majority of the highly paid workers will leave the area as there are very limited alternatives for the specialised skillsets involved and also the level of pay needed to pay the bills.The knock on effect to local businesses will be huge, but at least we have the University I keep hearing, so a few pubs and kebab shops will survive.The goverment needs to take a serious look at whats happening nationally to the pharma industry before it dissapears abroad completely. Wed 02 Feb 2011 08:05:07 GMT+1 LippyLippo This is a sickening blow to our area. Places like Thanet Earth can, in the main, only offer low-paid work and the wind farm doesn't offer anything like the opportunities available at Pfizer's site. As for Manston - well who will want to fly here now? The number of employers offering decent, well-paid work and opportunities is practically zero. The average wage in Thanet doesn't get you an average house or an average anything. The State is contracting, removing yet another chance of employment. When I work with children looking for opportunities after school, what do I tell them? The best advice is to leave the area and not come back, but of course people can't just do that. This is a disgraceful decision and of course the Government will stand by and let it happen. Wed 02 Feb 2011 06:45:41 GMT+1 Chamber Comment As some of the comments received bear witness only too clearly, the loss of jobs on such a scale represents a human calamity as well as a significant loss to the local economy. Venerable residents will recall the arrival of Pfizer in Sandwich in 1955 at a time when food rationing had just ended and many homes were furnished with utility furniture. The arrival of foreign direct investment foreshadowed a brighter future for the generation that had survived the deprivation of the war when so much of East Kent had suffered terribly from air attacks and, in the Dover area, from shelling. Pfizer proved to be a responsible employer with a genuine commitment to its neighbourhood. In recent times around a million pounds a year has come to charities and local voluntary groups through company-orchestrated payroll giving and the secondment of staff. In bemoaning the imminent loss of 2,400 jobs, we must remember to celebrate the good times that the investment has brought to the East Kent coastal business community.In common with other major pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer claims to test around 10,000 compounds to find one commercial product. The shortened patent life of commercial successes and the changes in national policies towards generic drugs has inevitably impacted on the funds available for R&D. Although the Pfizer site is officially defined as being in the Dover District, it sits on the border of Thanet which is listed as the most deprived district in Kent with over 4,000 unemployed. Nearly a quarter of all households in Thanet have no adult in employment. Although the National Office for Statistics places the Dover District in a healthier mid position in Kent, the data is heavily influenced by the high-paying posts at Pfizer. Public sector jobs, which represent up to a third of the workforce in both districts, are currently under threat. The announcement of the closure of Pfizer follows hard on redundancy notices issued to Council workers in Thanet and Dover.There are some bright spots on the horizon; literally in the case of windfarms. Thanet Offshore Windfarm opened last September. An investment of £800 million pounds has produced the world’s largest offshore windfarm of 100 turbines. This will be superceded in two years by the even larger London Array, a little further along the coast and a costing a lot more money, £2 billion. The home port of Ramsgate is already benefiting from the influx of maintenance engineers and construction crews. Thanet is also the home of the UK’s largest hydroponics facility at Thanet Earth, When in full production, this will produce 15% of the UK’s supplies of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. A cultural experience is also in ythe offing whent he Turner Contemporary opnes on 16th April this year. Dreamland in Margate is expected to reopen as a Heritage Amusement Park in two years. In the medium term, Manston Airport may offer the best hope for sustained regeneration. The owner, Infratil, projects 5 million passenger movements in its current planning. With 1,000 jobs created per million passenger movements, the sooner the development happens, the better from the perspective of the local economy.What about the Pfizer site itself? Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet & Sandwich, organised a Marine Energy summit in Ramsgate just over a year ago. This was a great success in focussing attention on the potential of South Thanet and Sandwich as a location for sunrise technologies. Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, has declared his hand in promoting the purchase of the port of Dover through the Dover People’s Port Trust which, if successful, promises a fund of £50 million to be invested in the area. Perhaps the most promising aspect of all is the location of East Kent at the gateway to Europe, the world’s largest consumer market. David FoleyChief ExecutiveThanet & East Kent ChamberDover District Chamber of Commerce Wed 02 Feb 2011 05:01:57 GMT+1 guyg01 This is desperately sad news for all the workers at Richborough - and for the East Kent area as a whole.It is 30 years since I have lived in Kent, but the shock is still deep.So many people have worked for so many years to make the Richborough site a truly world beating site.Alexander Fleming was present to give his blessing to the installation of the Terramycin (Antibiotic) Fermentation plant in Oct 1954 - the first outside the USA - which was the real start point for the Richborough site.Pfizer employees at Richborough always felt that they were a bit special - or more accurately that they were working for a special company.I feel the personal pain of the workforce now through the experience of my dad who worked at Pfizers as a quality control chemist from 1955 until he was made redundant in 1984 in a previous wave of corporate rationalization. He died of cancer three years later at the age of 55 - he never really got over the trauma of losing his job.I would also offer a view from a slightly different perspective - and it is something that has worried me for many years.The Richborough site is at the mouth of the river Stour and is pretty much at sea level. If one was conducting a global strategic review of operations for the next 30 years then the possibility of rising sea levels would probably have to be included as a factor in determining which sites to develop and which to close down.I would also note that Richborough has seen a major foreign retrenchment once before in the form of the Roman legions that left Britain in 410 AD via the Roman fort which still stands on a low hill overlooking the Pfizers site.I suspect that in the future the parallels between these two events may be seen as striking. Wed 02 Feb 2011 00:34:50 GMT+1 johnandrews1963 Absolutely Matt B, there are nearly as many contract workers on the Pfizer site as directly employed staff. Add to this service industries built up around Pfizers (everything from on site Starbucks cafes to local printing firms, hotel, taxi companies.....) and the number could be well over 5,000 that are affected in a significant fashion! Tue 01 Feb 2011 20:28:07 GMT+1 cocktailstick This is terrible news for the local Kent economy and the country. It follows AstraZeneca announcing the closure of their R&D site at Loughborough (Leics) with 1,500 job losses.The country can ill afford to lose such highly skilled and well paid jobs. Pfizer and the government are making the right noise about finding partners for the site and transitional plans, but the reality is these quality jobs will not be replaced. The same comments were made when AstaZeneca announced it's site closure at Loughborough. It's due to close this year and no buyer has been found and is unlikely to be found.Many of these indiviuals would have hoped to find a job with Pfizer. Sadly that isn't now going to happen. Tue 01 Feb 2011 19:49:09 GMT+1 Matt B of Thanet Star What you are all missing is that the full time employed staff make up only a small fraction of the total staff that work for Pfizer - most are working for contractor companies that service only Pfizer. In some cases they are virtually identical in staffing to the department they replaced. The total job losses are therefore grossly under-reported. Tue 01 Feb 2011 17:51:46 GMT+1