Vow to fight Pinneys factory closure plans

Image caption,
Young's announced proposals to close Pinneys in Annan on Tuesday

Senior politicians have vowed to fight a move to close a major seafood factory in the south of Scotland.

Young's Seafood sparked widespread anger on Tuesday when it announced proposals to close its Pinneys plant in Annan, with the loss of 450 jobs.

But the leaders of Dumfries and Galloway Council said they would not accept the decision lying down.

And Enterprise Minister Paul Wheelhouse said he would "leave no stone unturned" in his efforts to retain the jobs.

Young's wants to shut the plant in Annan because it says it is "no longer financially viable" and it wants to move production to Grimsby.

It has led to concerns about the impact of the closure could have on the region, where Pinneys is one the largest private sector employers.

In a series of Tweets, Mr Wheelhouse revealed that he held "constructive" talks with the management of Young's on Wednesday.

He also spoke with Elaine Murray and Rob Davidson, the council leader and her deputy, in a bid to address the situation.

He said: "I and the Scottish government, our enterprise and skills agencies and local partners, such as the council, are all fully committed to working with Young's to explore any potential options to retain production at the site and safeguard as many jobs as possible.

"I am determined that we leave no stone unturned in our efforts to retain employment, given the importance of the plant and these jobs, and the livelihoods and businesses they support in wider local community.

"This will clearly be a very worrying time for Young's employees, their families and the wider community.

"I want to assure everyone affected by this that the Scottish government is strongly committed to doing everything we can to find a viable solution to retain jobs in Annan. We know how much both this plant and the jobs involved matter to the local community and to Dumfries and Galloway."

Image caption,
About 450 jobs could be lost with the closure of the site in Annan

Ms Murray and Mr Davidson also met Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Fergus Ewing, the rural economy secretary, in the wake of Young's announcement.

In a joint statement, the councillors said: "Just because Young's have announced this closure, does not mean that we accept this lying down.

"We need to do everything that we can to take up the case with the company to persuade them to reconsider the closure of the site in Annan."

They praised the Scottish government's reaction, adding: "They recognise the scale and seriousness of the problem for the staff and community of Annan and the importance of prompt-focused action. Time is of the essence."

'Difficult situation'

They said an action group would meet on Friday, which would involve the council, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish and UK governments.

"We know that acting quickly, as we have since the announcement was made, is only the first step," they added. "Our administration and council is in this for the long term. We will support the staff and the wider community of Annan through this difficult time and for as long as it takes."

Meanwhile, local MP David Mundell - the Scottish secretary - said both governments and agencies needed to work together to mitigate the impact of any closure.

He said: "The UK government is absolutely committed to doing all that we can to deal with this very difficult situation.

"This is an area that does not have a large number of big employers, it doesn't have an obvious place for people who are displaced from these jobs to go."

He added: "It's a workforce that is very skilled, that's been very loyal and now has been abandoned by a company that they thought was going to be on that site for a very long time."

Young's has said it wants to begin a consultation with Pinneys staff and their representatives "as soon as practicable".

Its chief executive, Bill Showalter, said the proposals did not reflect on the staff at Annan, who he described as a "credit to the company".

"We will work hard to maintain the employment of all colleagues throughout this transition," he added.

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