Finance and Employment Secretary John Swinney has outlined details of a comprehensive recovery plan to support West Lothian’s economy following confirmation of the closure of Hall’s of Broxburn.
The Scottish Government-led Taskforce, established in July when plans for closure of the meat processing plant were first announced and comprising West Lothian Council, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Skills Development Scotland, trades unions, the company and local elected representatives, has been working to secure a viable future for the plant.
That process involved putting a strong and creative investment proposition backed by the public sector to Vion that could have secured a future for the plant. It also resulted in two bids presented to the company last Friday.
However, in a statement yesterday Hall’s parent company Vion informed staff that it was unable to accept either of two bids to take over the Broxburn plant.
Staff facing redundancy have already received support through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative. One to one support has been available, with advice translated into Polish and Romanian to ensure all staff are able to access help.
The Taskforce will now focus on a comprehensive range of measures to secure alternative employment for staff at the plant and to support the wider West Lothian economy.
The proposed recovery plan includes:
- Continuing support from the Taskforce and a Recovery Action Group led by West Lothian Council;
- Work to secure alternative employment for staff at the plant and support through PACE;
- Translation services to ensure all staff can access support;
- A “Skills matching” service provided by Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and West Lothian Council to match Hall’s staff to other companies who may be recruiting;
- Exploring transport and training requirements to better match staff to available vacancies;
- Active pursuit by Scottish Development International of potential inward investment opportunities;
- Addressing supply chain and local business impacts;
- Support for business start ups and growth opportunities through Business Gateway;
- Exploring options to invest in infrastructure improvements to develop areas of West Lothian particularly affected by the plant closure; and
- Developing a strategy for the pig industry in Scotland, working with Quality Meat Scotland and companies interested in enhancing pig processing and production.
Mr Swinney said:
“The Scottish Government has worked with Taskforce partners since the start of the 90 day consultation period to secure a viable future for the Broxburn plant, with Vion or with an alternative investor. Through that work we were able to put a strong and creative investment proposition backed by the public sector to Vion that could have secured a future for Hall’s of Broxburn. We were able to secure interest from three parties and two bids went forward last Friday to take over its operations.
“We are deeply disappointed that Vion have been unable to accept either of these bids and have now confirmed the decision to close Hall’s of Broxburn.
“Teams are already in place working to support staff facing redundancy. Translation services have been available through Skills Development Scotland and Job Centre Plus, a sign of both the Scottish and UK Governments working together for the future of those working at the plant.
“The work of the Hall’s of Broxburn taskforce will continue. The Scottish Government, its agencies and West Lothian Council will work together to find alternative employment for all those affected by this decision and to develop opportunities to enhance the wider West Lothian economy.
“I have today confirmed to West Lothian Council that the Scottish Government will partner in the economic regeneration of Broxburn and officials are developing plans which we will bring to the Taskforce at the end of October. These plans will help to mitigate the impact of this closure on West Lothian as a whole.
“Separately, we are developing a strategy for the pig industry in Scotland, working with the sector to enhance pig processing and production.”