Reaction to yesterday’s devastating news from Jedburgh
Calls have been made for a “stimulus package” for Jedburgh following the double blow yesterday of the town’s two biggest employers announcing job losses.
Engineering company L.S. Starrett informed employees yesterday, June 1, that around 100 jobs are at risk of redundancy with a proposal to cease manufacturing in Jedburgh, taking it instead to Brazil and China.
And clothes hanger manufacturer Mainetti also announced its plans to consolidate UK operations to Wrexham, with 96 manufacturing and warehouse jobs at risk.
However, there is hope for some as it has been proposed that Mainetti’s sister company, Emtelle, take over the factory space that is vacated.
Jedburgh and District’s three councillors have all expressed their dismay over what they see as a devastating shock for the entire community and further afield.
Councillor Jim Brown said the national and global event leading up to yesterday’s announcements have led to a “perfect storm”.
He told The Southern: “It’s devastating news for my town.
“The closure of L.S. Starrett brings to an end over 60 years of high-quality employment within our community and the loss of around 100 jobs.
“Once again, we see relatively cheap labour in other parts of the world and the availability of cheap global transport taking its toll on high-end companies such as Starretts.
“Basically, in order to compete on price, and with virtually no UK government support for employers, the perfect storm has been created, and we witness the relentless march of UK capitalism, which compels these world-leading companies to look overseas for support.
“Production costs and several other unforeseen developments have also created this disaster for Mainetti.
“Who would have thought that simple changes, such as the recycling of used hangers, or the increase in online clothes shopping, would reduce the need for disposable products and firstly bring down famous high street outlets such as BHS or Debenhams, then, in turn, the Jedburgh Mainetti plant.
“Coronavirus has also forced the company to re-examine the viability of having two similar plants in the north and the decision was finally taken to spare the Wrexham plant and sadly close Jedburgh.
“I do, however, understand that jobs may be on offer to staff looking to relocate.
“However, although this is devastating news for the workforce, I understand that their sister company Emtelle is to take over the factory, leaving room for some Mainetti employees.
“Emtelle has been a fantastic success in the Borders and have an immediate requirement for staff both within their present product range, but also in new products they are developing, at least there is hope that Emtelle will do all they can to take up at least some of the slack.
“I fully intend to liaise with Paul Wheelhouse MP to further examine what can be done at a Scottish Government level to help in these difficult times.”
His colleague Sandy Scott said: “I’m very sorry for folks who have lost their jobs.
“I also feel sorry for Starretts and Mainetti as I am sure they didn’t want to do this.
“And for Jedburgh, it’s a big body blow for the town, because both companies were good supporters of Jedburgh.
“I’m sure the council and government agencies will be on hand to try and soften the blow
The other councillor in Jedburgh, Scott Hamilton, echoed his worries for the town itself after the devastation of what could be almost 200 job losses.
He said: ““Obviously, this news will have a huge impact on Jedburgh and the surrounding area.
“Covid has been a huge challenge for businesses, which has been highlighted by both of these businesses in the town.
“These are the two main employers in Jedburgh, and having one to shed a large number of staff is bad enough, but both at the same time is really going to have a big impact on the town as a whole.
“The High Street in Jedburgh is struggling as it is, with the lockdown, and it’s going to get a lot worse, with all these employees having less money.
“The government has policies in place to help people losing their jobs, but it’s definitely not a replacement for having lost your job and the security of a regular wage.
“Some of the workers will have mortgages based on the money they are earning, so it’s going to be a difficult time for lots of these people.
“My heart goes out to all who are going to be affected by this terrible news.”
The region’s two Conservative politicians have also voiced their shock.
John Lamont MP said: “These job losses in Jedburgh are yet more devasting news for the Borders economy. It is clear that the economic hit of the coronavirus is going to be significant.
“This will be extremely difficult news for the workers and their families, particularly at a time when there is so much uncertainty.
“It is important that the PACE redundancy support is put in place by Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government as quickly as possible to give everyone affected all the help they need.
“I am also happy to assist any employees affected by this news.
“Jedburgh urgently needs a stimulus package to boost economic growth in the area to allow it to recover from these significant job losses.
“I will be contacting the Scottish Government, the local council and the South of Scotland Economic Partnership to discuss how we can help the town and the wider Borders economy to recover after the impact of the coronavirus.”
And Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “I am devastated to hear of more damaging job cuts.
“The financial impact will hit hard in a fragile rural area like the Borders.
“The Scottish Government must plan now for an economic recovery and try to mitigate further job losses and ensure the people of the Borders can find alternative work opportunities.
“I am here to help as best I can, please do get in contact if you, a family member or a relative is affected. You can call on 01573 224862 or email, [email protected]”
Professor Russel Griggs OBE, chairman of the newly-formed South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) said: “We have been made aware of the very concerning news that both Mainetti and Starrett have announced proposed closures in Jedburgh.
“Working closely with partners, we will be doing everything we can to support those who may be affected.
“We will also be considering the implications on the town of Jedburgh and wider South of Scotland economy going forward.”
Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, added: “This is devastating news for the Borders and especially the tight-knit Jedburgh community.
“The council is working closely with our partners, especially South of Scotland Enterprise, to ensure that the necessary support is provided to employees of both companies as soon as possible.
“I have supported the discussions and work in Jedburgh to ensure the council is supportive of existing local ambitions for economic growth.
“That work provides a strong basis for further discussion with SOSE and the Jedburgh community.”