'Repurposing' bid to save jobs at Michelin tyre factory

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Derek MackayImage source, PA
Image caption,
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will meet Michelin executives in three weeks' time to discuss possible alternatives to closure

The head of Scottish Enterprise has been tasked with producing alternative plans to prevent the closure of Dundee's Michelin tyre factory.

Chief executive Steve Dunlop will report to the Scottish government on possible options for "repurposing" the plant.

Michelin confirmed on Tuesday that the tyre factory will close by mid-2020 with the loss of all 845 jobs.

The French firm said it deemed it "unsuitable" in the current climate.

Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay confirmed he had convened an action group in a bid to save as many jobs in Dundee as possible.

Mr Mackay met with Michelin executives in Paris on Sunday and they agreed to hear his rescue plans in three weeks' time.

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I still have hope, and I want to give some hope to the people of Dundee and the Tayside region.

"My priority is to maintain the factory but if we can't do that can we repurpose the factory, diversify the factory, so that we can save as many jobs as possible?

"And that's why I've reached out to the company, to trade unions and local authorities and, crucially, the UK government."

Image source, Getty Images

Mr Mackay said he was not throwing in the towel or giving up on Dundee continuing to produce tyres and being a manufacturing plant for the future.

"Our primary objective is to maintain the plant," he said.

"But at the same time I'll be tasking the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, Steve Dunlop, to work on a repurposing proposition to say, if not that, rather than lose 845 jobs what else could we do with Michelin at that site to retain as much as we possibly can."

Mr Mackay believes the Dundee factory could be used for other work already carried out by Michelin - including research and development.

He said: "I will be pulling together the best expertise to put the best proposition to Michelin and they, while not wanting to revisit the decision, are at least giving me a hearing in about three weeks' time so I can put that offer to them."

Image source, Getty Images

The finance secretary also called for the Tay Cities Deal, which involves funding from the UK and Scottish governments, to be completed and possibly enhanced.

It comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond told the House of Commons on Tuesday that he remains hopeful the deal will be signed soon.

Mr Mackay said: "I've said I'm open to additional resources. UK government need to be as well, in light of this decision.

"What concerns me is that they've said they might revisit the £150m (contribution) to the Tay Cities Deal. We need more than that - they can't dilute the cities deal, they need to add to it."