Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth is calling for answers from both the UK and Scottish Government after it has been revealed that Young’s Seafood received UK Government funding in 2015 to protect its operations in Grimsby, ultimately paving the way for the move of production from Pinneys of Annan to the Young’s headquarters in the north of England.
The funding, which was provided by the then UK Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was awarded to Young’s Seafood after a successful application to the “Developing the UK’s Leading Food Manufacturing Cluster in Greater Lincolnshire.”
Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has uncovered Committee Reports to North East Lincolnshire Cabinet which states that on the 5th of August 2015 the UK Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills extended a deadline to allow Young’s Seafood to apply for unspent funds. Young’s Seafood Limited were later awarded the unspent funds, which totalled £1.364 million.
The same Report to North East Lincolnshire Cabinet states that Young’s were required to consider the full operations of their business due to a loss of a major contract. Young’s were planning on consolidating their business operations either at their Grimsby site or at their Scottish sites, including Pinney’s.
Councillor’s on North East Lincolnshire Council were recommended to agree to the Report as it would protect the 250 employees it employed at the site in 2015 and would also lead to the creation of 200 jobs at the Young’s sites in Grimsby.
Reacting, Labour MSP Colin Smyth said, “It is clear that as long ago as 2015, Young’s had decided to consolidate their operations in the north of England and the successful application to this UK Government fund has swayed their decision to retain their full operations in Grimsby rather than at Pinney’s.
At the time of this decision David Mundell had recently been appointed to the UK Government Cabinet and must now explain why his Government moved to secure jobs in Grimsby but not in Annan. It also raises the question – did he know jobs were under threat at Pinney’s as far back as 2015.
The Scottish Government must also explain what they knew about the state of Young’s Seafood Limited and about the decisions the company would take. The Scottish Government have agencies such as Scottish Enterprise to ensure that large employers remain successful but also to monitor those companies in difficulty. This revelation shows that Young’s has been struggling for some time which the U.K. and Scottish Government must have been aware of, yet neither provided any major funding to retain jobs in Annan”
“The workers at Pinney’s and wider Annan community have been let down by both the UK and Scottish Government’s who have taken little action to protect local jobs and the local economy, while at the same time the UK Government have invested heavily in supporting Young’s sites elsewhere. The loss of Pinney’s has demonstrated that our local economy is extremely fragile and is in need of drastic investment but that hasn’t happened.”
Colin Smyth now intends to write to David Mundell, local MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Jobs, Economy and Fair Work and to Scottish Enterprise to get answers.
Shortly after the initial announcement of the potential closure at Pinney’s Colin Smyth met with Young’s Chief Executive, Bill Showalter, along with Councillor’s Sean Marshall and Adam Wilson. At the time Mr Showalter advised that the decision to start the consultation over the closure of Pinney’s had only been taken recently. However, this information would cast that into doubt.
Colin Smyth said, “The Report from 2015 suggests that Young’s had made the decision to consolidate their operations at one site nearly three years ago. Young’s must now answer why it left its employees in the dark for so long”.