Solway jobs blow

THERE was shock news this week as a major Carrick employer announced an “operational review” of its manufacturing plant in Barrhill which could lead to the possible loss of up to 60 jobs.

Barr Limited has announced it is to undertake a review of its Solway Precast concrete manufacturing plant in Barrhill.

A statutory 30-day period of consultation will be undertaken with the 60 employees, most of whom are understood to live between Stranraer and Maybole.

The company said it was taking the action due to the continued low level of demand for precast products in the construction market and the continuing high levels of imports from overseas.

Bill Weir, managing director of Solway Precast, said: “Manufacturing and fabrication have been especially hard hit in the past couple of years and this has resulted in the unfortunate but necessary requirement for us to conduct an operational review of Solway Precast business.

“We do regret having to take this action and it is not one we have taken lightly.

“We are actively considering all options open to the business and will continue to consult with staff to ensure they are kept informed on any progress in this regard.”

Solway Precast is a long-established precast supplier across the whole construction sector and has been based in Barrhill for around 40 years.

Carrick MSP Adam Ingram said this week that he was fighting to keep the doors of the plant open and had arranged a meeting between the company and the cabinet secretary for infrastructure, Alex Neil MSP.

Mr Ingram said: “I spent Friday afternoon with them and there are a lot of depressed people, both management and staff. I have subsequently spoken to Alex Neil and I am fixing a meeting between them. It would be a major blow to the local economy if Solway Precast closed its doors.

“I am hearing that there is unfair competition from Ireland, both north and south, in terms of the marketplace. They are losing out on contracts in Scotland, in particular to Ireland. Alex Neil is willing to investigate that, if the company can give him some evidence.

“I don’t know whether it is unfair in the sense that the Irish companies are getting help from their governments or if they have lower overheads – for instance, with their tax systems.”

Local MP Sandra Osborne said: “Closure of the precast business at Barrhill would be disastrous for the area. I am informed they are trying to find a buyer for the business, but are not meeting with success.

“Competition from Ireland has affected the business since their costs are cheaper, even with additional transport. I have been assured that Barr management will do all it can to assist employees if they are in a redundancy situation.

“They are a well-trained and skilled workforce. It is extremely worrying that a main local employer could be lost in a rural area, with little alternative employment opportunities.”

There have also been recent redundancies at Barr’s Ochiltree and Creetown sites.

South Carrick Councillor Alec Oattes said: “I was very sorry to hear this devastating news for the workforce and the implications for the local economy.

“I know Adam Ingram and Alex Neil are meeting with the management in an effort to address the situation. I am sure they will do everything in their power to help.”

The Carrick Gazette understands that the workforce has been told that the company will finish its present contracts but after that there is no more work available.

Adam Ingram added: “I am trying to get some sort of co-ordinated response. I don’t want the doors to close here if it is at all possible.”