Under threat Melton creamery to meet with borough council
We reported last month that Arla - known locally as Tuxford and Tebbutt – was reviewing the future of its site, where it is the last Stilton cheese maker in the town.
The company says falling sales of Stilton are behind its move, which puts 60 jobs under threat at the Thorpe End plant.
Arla has pledged to announce the outcome of its review in April and the matter was debated at yesterday’s (Thursday’s) full meeting of the borough council.
The discussion was prompted by a question from Councillor Ian Atherton, one of the ward members for that area of town, on how the council could respond.
He told colleagues: “Given the current financial crisis that many families find themselves in, the potential loss of employment could be devastating not only for those employed by the creamery, but also for those in its supply chain.”
The leader, Councillor Pip Allnatt, responded by saying he had secured a meeting with Arla this month, at which he would impress upon the business the impact its closure would have on employees and the local economy.
Councillor Allnatt told fellow councillors: “Following this meeting we will consider further measures to support the management and employees of Arla.
“If they are determined to close we are not empowered as a council to subsidise them not do we have a budget for this.
“Even if we could suspend business rates, say, I suspect that would not even dent their cost base.
“So I can’t say I’m optimistic but we will give it a try.
“We will, of course seek, to advise employees locally through the transition and if they are our tenants we may be able to consider additional help.
“We are not in a position to assist suppliers.”
Reports suggest Arla will endeavour to sell the site if their final decision is to close.
On this, Councillor told the meeting: “I have opened up a dialogue with a potential purchaser of the site and of the business.
"Our officers will continue to scan for other possibilities. I cannot add to this point because of the confidentiality of the discussions I’ve had at great length.”