Support plea for laid off workers

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MORE should be done for Borderers who lose their jobs, writes Kenny Paterson.

That is the view of Galashiels community councillor John McLaren, who believes Scottish Borders Council could provide more support to workers made redundant in the region, no matter how big or small the business. He was responding to the closure of Comet in Galashiels last month, with the loss of 14 jobs.

Mr McLaren said: “When Exacta (later known as Viasystems) closed in Selkirk, the council stepped in with support.

“For the workers of Comet, there has been no support. Even though there were far fewer people involved, they are entitled to help.

“I am challenging SBC to consider its responsibility around trying to provide help for sacked workers.

“I am concerned that the council will only step in once a big factory closes.”

Galashiels councillor Bill White said: “The council, along with the Scottish Government, will only step in when it is a significant employer which is set to close.

“But the council has set up a £300,000 business loan fund to help firms borrow money and has a shop-front improvement scheme, so it is trying to help.

“There is not a lot the council can do if a national business wants to close down a shop.

“The likes of Comet and Woolworths have gone to the wall because they have not kept up to date and, as a result, have failed.”

But Mr McLaren replied: “There are existing services in SBC which could be engaged to help these people.

“But if there is no system there to help them, how do they access these services?

“We need to make sure people who lose their jobs know where to go. I just think we have an opportunity to do something.”