Monday, December 15, 2008

Economic Meltdown

Almost 20 years ago, I was stuck in a queue in Llanfyllin, with a load of fat lambs in my landrover trailer. The farmers of Montgomeryshire wanted to sell thousands of them on the same day - and the town's little livestock market couldn't handle them all at the same time. So latecomers had to wait until some pens were sold and loaded into lorries before we could unload. Anyway, I was a board member of the DBRW at the time, and decided to use my time considering how the layout of Llanfyllin could be redesigned. Another factor in this equation was that a hugely successful local company, Saltofix, had outgrown its site in the town. Incredibly, the back-of-envelope plan I drew that day appealed to the Chief Executive of my Board, and the chief officers of the Montgomeryshire Council, of which I was the then Chairman. We set up what was known as the North Montgomeryshire Group, which presented this back-of-envelope plan, transformed into something more professional and glossy - and incredibly it eventually came to pass.

Now I mention all this by way of historical background, because the plans involved a new bespoke factory for Saltofix, which is known today as Stadco Powys. Over the weekend I learned that that on Friday the company had informed staff that it plans to make 106 of its 153 workers redundant in the New Year - though not before March. It became public today. In Llanfyllin this is a truly massive blow. It is economic meltdown for the town of Llanfyllin. The workers and everyone else will be in shock as the impact of this news sinks in.

Local councillor, Peter Lewis has asked me to join him tomorrow morning at a private meeting with the company at 9.30. I understand that the WDA will also be at the meeting. It will be an opportunity for us to learn in accurate detail what is happening, and for us to tell the company of our support and desire that as many jobs as possible are retained in Llanfyllin. It is particularly important that a plant remains active so that there's a presence in the town on which to rebuild when the current economic crisis is over.

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