Taxman threatens to shut Walkerburn company

A PEEBLESSHIRE councillor said this week it would be “an utter tragedy” for Walkerburn if the village’s largest private sector employer went to the wall.

Gavin Logan (Con, Tweeddale East) was commenting after it was revealed that the taxman had petitioned for Rathburn Chemicals Ltd to be wound up.

The company was founded in the early 1970s and the premises were extended in 1989, despite opposition from many local residents who organised a petition and claimed the operations were unsuitable so close to neighbouring domestic properties and the primary school.

Despite these protests, the former Borders Regional Council granted consent and the workforce grew from four to seven, going some way to filling the jobs void left by the closure in 1988 of the last knitwear mill in Walkerburn.

Rathburn’s website describes the company as “a supplier of solvents for laboratory use and for other exacting applications”.

It goes on: “Our range of materials for biochemistry, encompasses materials which we can purify by chemical treatment”.

Mr Logan, who believes about 20 people are employed at the plant, was alerted on Tuesday when a public notice appeared in the Scotsman newspaper.

It stated: “On February 2, 2011, a petition was presented to Peebles Sheriff Court by the Advocate General for Scotland for and on behalf of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs craving the Court inter alia to order that Rathburn Chemicals (Manufacturing) Ltd. be wound up by the court and to appoint a liquidator.”

The notice asks all interested parties to lodge answers to the court by February 16.

Yesterday, TheSouthern sought clarification from Rathburn boss Dr Campbell Mackay, who lives near the factory, but a receptionist said he had no comment.

A spokesperson for HM Revenues & Customs also declined to comment, apart from describing the court petition as “a notice of intent”.