The announcement that the Hall’s of Broxburn site in West Lothian may close, putting more than 1,700 jobs at risk, was made by Vion last week (5 July).
Speaking at a special meeting of the council executive, the leader of West Lothian Council John McGinty said he and the council had “extreme concern” over the proposal by Vion to close the processing plant, which processes around 8,000 pigs per week.
In a meeting with Vion management held yesterday (10 July), McGinty posed questions on a range of issues concerning the profile of the workforce, the company’s financial position and the lead-up to the 90-day consultation.
McGinty also expressed his concern about the impact the closure would have on the local people, families, communities and businesses in the area. He said: “The council’s focus is on Vion retaining jobs at the Broxburn plant. We have asked for a full explanation of how this situation came about and we are pressing Vion to ensure that every option is fully explored.
“The Council Executive has agreed that the major objective for all concerned must be to safeguard the future of the plant, and calls on all stakeholders to work together to deliver a solution which ensures continued and sustainable production at the plant and protects vital local jobs.”
In a previous interview, Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said the announcement was “extremely sad” and something the company had tried to avoid for the past four years, but added that the site has been losing £79,000 per day, despite significant investment. Barr said: “Clearly, our Hall’s of Broxburn site is a major market for the Scottish pig farming industry and, therefore, we would hope to extend the time frame for any closure plan for the abattoir at the site, in order to help minimise the potential impact on Scottish pig farmers.”
Meanwhile the Scottish finance secretary, John Swinney, and rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead have also pledged their support, annoucing a coordinated taskforce which is being set up to minimise the impact of the proposed closures.
Richard Lochhead said: “This is a deeply disappointing situation and one which will have ramifications both locally and nationally.
“That’s why we have moved swiftly and set up the taskforce to work with the company to minimise the impact of the potential closure and I have already met with NFUS, Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Pig Producers to discuss a way forward.
“Scotland is rightly famed for the high quality of its food and drink and Scottish pork is an important part of this – our task now is to ensure that this continues to be the case and that’s what all those involved are working to achieve.”