Straight to the top: Newcastle Liberal Democrats take practical plan to Prime Minster after shock announcement of closure of Nestle's Fawdon factory while Labour mulls "talks about talks" next week

April 30, 2021 8:04 PM
Dear Prime Minister

I hope that your staff have briefed you about the further body blow to the Newcastle and North East manufacturing base which came today with the sudden announcement of the closure of the Nestle confectionery factory in Fawdon. This letter is sent on behalf of myself and my Fawdon and West Gosforth Ward colleagues who represent the area in which the plant is located and many of the 600 workers, and the Opposition Group of Liberal Democrats on Newcastle City Council, of which I am the Leader.

The economic strategy you have set your hand to is one of leveling up. Before the pandemic, the North East still had a surplus on its regional balance of payments in manufactures - the only UK region which had this. So I make specific proposals for your Government to implement as a matter of urgency to offset this hugely damaging plant closure should it go ahead. A few years ago, Sanofi closed down on an adjacent site and Crown Packaging nearby moved away, with the loss of large numbers of good quality jobs in manufacturing for local people. This process of closure after closure is extremely worrying for the future of our area.

So, could I ask what discussions were held by Ministers with Nestle about their plans before they were announced, what interventions the Government has considered, and what steps you will take to press Nestle to review their decision?

If you are unable to prevail upon Nestle to reverse that decision, can I suggest inter alia the following measures:

1. Relocation of a major Government Department to Newcastle - we have sites in the city centre which could support thousands of new jobs, within walking distance of the main line station and the Metro, which are "shovel ready";
2. Financial support to Newcastle City Council to enable it to buy and rehabilitate the site prior to redevelopment with its proven private sector partner for future investment, prioritising advanced manufacturing, health sciences or digital and energy industries in accordance with the regional strategic economic plan;
3. Enhanced and accelerated grants to the Metro for their modernisation programme - the factory is close to the Fawdon Metro station, so this would facilitate redundant workers travelling to new jobs;
4. A major initiative to encourage growth amongst SMEs similar to that which was successfully introduced by the then DTI at the time of closures of coal mines;
5. Significant grants to educational establishments, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the City Council for retraining and apprenticeship programmes.
6. Financial support for tree planting; road and pavement repairs; and housing insulation - there is a backlog of all of these, creating immediate employment as well as benefiting the city's infrastructure and environment.

RolosMany people in this region entrusted you with their votes in 2019. Now is the time for you to repay that trust.

Yours sincerely

Dr Nick Cott

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and leader of the Opposition
Councillor for Fawdon & West Gosforth Ward

P.S. You may remember that advert "do you love anybody enough to share your last Rolo?" Soon the last Rolo will be made in Newcastle.....

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