Thursday, 19 September 2013

The bumpy road to recovery

The bad news last week that the Pall plant in Redruth is planning to make over 170 jobs redundant following a decision to transfer their industrial products division to Slovakia is a reminder that the road to recovery is not always going to be smooth.

I spoke to the UK Manager for Pall on the day the news was announced. While it is clear that the US corporation has made a decision which it is unlikely to reverse, it was reassuring that the aerospace division, which represents about half of the production in Redruth, will stay. The company is apparently trying to make each of its plants more specialised. There is a good chance that some of those affected will be found work either in the aerospace division at Redruth or at the Newquay plant where they manufacture specialist filtration systems for the pharmaceutical industry. It is also unlikely that anything will happen for six months or so which at least gives people time to plan their next move, but, conversely, also means a long period of uncertainty.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that the decision is a tragedy for those affected and is incredibly frustrating because the bigger picture is more encouraging than it has been for years. Growth is returning to the economy. The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Redruth is down from 1500 last year to a little over 1000 now. Across Devon and Cornwall, the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance is at the lowest level since 2008. New engineering firms like Large Diameter Drilling have announced plans to move to the area creating new jobs and there have been dozens of successful firms starting up at the Pool Innovation Centre. Construction of the new link road at Camborne is now underway and Redruth has managed to strike a deal that will lead to the new Cornwall Archive Centre being built on the site of the old brewery.

One of the problems with large multinational companies is that they make investment decisions thousands of miles away in some US office block and the people who make those decisions simply don’t share the same commitment to the area that those who work in their plants do. Pall was one of the companies encouraged to locate in Redruth with financial incentives during the 1980’s along with others such as the tractor and loader manufacturer Case. Case left as soon as the government incentives expired. To be fair to Pall, while it has always been a rather aloof corporation that keeps itself to itself, it did seem to put down roots. Last week’s announcement is a deep disappointment but we must not let it get to us. We have to push ahead with the plans we have to bring new industries and better paid jobs to our towns.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.