Support for 320 Derbyshire workers after Belper firm closes

Courtaulds' Belper factory.
Courtaulds' Belper factory.
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Leaders at Derbyshire County Council have pledged to do all they can to support 320 workers made redundant by a Belper textile firm.

Courtaulds UK Ltd, which manufactured garments for leading firms including Pretty Polly, announced the closure of its West Mill site in Belper this week – ending an association with the town dating back more than 200 years.

A rapid response service is being set up to ensure affected workers and their families get all the help they need to access benefits and find new employment.

The Labour-led county council is working alongside Job Centre Plus, the Government’s Business, Innovation and Skills department, employment rights specialists, training providers and Amber Valley Borough Council.

Councillor John Owen, the county council's deputy cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: “The shock news that Courtaulds is closing is a huge blow for its workforce and the town.

“I live in Belper and recognise the important role Courtaulds has had in the town and supporting its economy over the years - everyone knows someone who works for Courtaulds or a business associated with it.

“Our immediate priority is to make sure employees have access to the right advice and benefits entitlement straight away. Our welfare rights team will go the extra mile to make sure this happens.”

Coun Owen added: “We’ll also be making sure support is available through local food banks and community banks where people need to access it.

“And we’ll be working with partners – including Job Centre Plus - to set up a jobs fair so that people can see what employment opportunities are available and be given help to apply for them.”

Derbyshire Conservatives also expressed their concern over the news.

Coun Stuart Bradford, who represents Duffield and Belper South, said: "It's vital that all avenues are explored to ensure that workers are not further disadvantaged at this critical point and that all options have been explored to secure the jobs or that new jobs can be found.

"In the meantime I'll work with Amber Valley Borough Council and the county council to ensure that whatever real help we can give can be given. I'm in close contact with local MPs including Pauline Latham, who has been extremely proactive and has spoken to the business secretary Savid Javid, to ensure that the issue is given the attention it needs.

"Amber Valley Borough Council has already pledged to hold a jobs fair locally, working with the county council. There is also a glimmer of hope that other interested parties may yet take on the business and safeguard at least some of those jobs."

Amber Valley Borough Council Coun David Taylor added: "The affected people can be assured that we will do whatever we can to offer practical advice or other help in conjunction with partners. It is important we do all we can to help them through this difficult and uncertain time."