11th hour bid to save Halls Broxburn plant

THE UNDER-FIRE Hall’s of Broxburn plant has been given a glimmer of hope in its bid for survival after a potential bidder was granted more time.

Bidders now have until noon today (Friday) to come forward with a bid to save the doomed plant.

Last week’s decision to close the Broxburn plant was met with concern over the future of the 1700 work 
force and the impact that closure would have on West Lothian.

The plant reportedly loses £75,000 a day and owners Vion insist that only a viable bid will save the plant.

A spokesman for owners VION said: “We have been asked by one of the potential bidders for a short extension to the deadline to enable them to finalise their position. We have therefore agreed to extend the original deadline to noon on Friday, October 12.

“As we stated last week, unless a viable offer is made for the plant, the phased closure plans will regrettably be implemented.

“Therefore it’s important for everyone concerned that we are able to make a definitive decision as soon as possible and we hope to be able to announce the outcome of this process at the start of next week.”

The direct impact on the Broxburn area is clear, with a quarter of the workforce coming from the area.

However the closure may spread across the region affecting many others in a different way.

Chairman of the Linlithgow Business Association, David Tait explained the way in which Linlithgow and other West Lothian towns may be affected.

He said: “I understand the direct impact on Linlithgow, in terms of lost jobs, will be small compared to the immediate Broxburn area.

‘‘However, the indirect impact may well see increased competition for the jobs that do become available in the town.

“Looking at the situation from the outside, it is very hard to understand how this situation was allowed to develop.

‘‘How could a company of that size with the management resources available to it let losses get so far out of control without taking remedial action earlier?”

He added: “This once again points to the dangers of too great a reliance being placed on big business with no local roots and which feels no duty of care for the community on which it relies for its workforce. ‘‘

VION’s decision to implement a phased closure of its Broxburn site was taken after the 90-day consultation period where the owners and a Scottish Government Task Force, led by Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney, endeavoured to find a viable solution.

The task force has vowed to continue to try and find a suitable owner to save the plant and its leader, John Swinney, said: “The Scottish Government has been committed to doing all that it can to help those working at Hall’s of Broxburn and their families throughout this whole period.

“Since Vion announced the proposed closure in July, the Scottish Government and its agencies have taken every action in our power to secure the future of the plant, working with the company and stakeholders.”

He added: “We will continue to work with Vion over the coming days as they consider their final two bids.”