Anger at Young’s Seafood as council tax payers have to find �25,000 to support Cromer Crab Company staff
Seafood processing giant Young's has been urged to 'do the decent thing' after North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) stumped up �25,000 to provide skills training to Cromer Crab Company workers under threat of redundancy.
The council has found the money from its reserves - but is unhappy that council tax-payers are funding the help, and has called on Young's to pay for it.
Trevor Ivory, a council cabinet member, said: 'While we are making this funding available to make sure factory staff are supported, I do not think that it is right that local council tax-payers should have to bear this cost alone.
'I am disappointed that Young's has not yet committed funding itself and we shall keep up the pressure on them to do the decent thing and support their staff.'
The move comes a few days after Young's extended the 90-day consultation period into the future of the Holt Road factory, which has been threatened with closure since September.
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Its future is the subject of the North Norfolk News' Claws Off campaign, plus the Keep it Cromer campaign organised by North Norfolk Labour Party.
Young's extended talks with the hope of securing a firm future for the plant, which could include the possibility of bringing more 'volume into the factory'.
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Since the consultation began bosses have cut 70 of more than 200 jobs but have managed to avoid making compulsory redundancies, after scores of staff volunteered to leave.
NNDC has delivered two advice sessions for workers already under notice of redundancy, in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus.
Over the two sessions 41 employees have been offered advice and guidance on subjects such as benefits and opportunities for re-training and 38 of those attending have signed up for further one-to-one meetings that will focus on their individual needs and assist them in finding alternative employment.
Mr Ivory said NNDC would also put pressure on the government to support the cost of re-training.
Government funding for skills training would previously have been available through the East of England Development Agency (Eeda), which has been closed down as part of the government's 'bonfire of the quangos'.
While funding is likely to be available in the future from the new Skills Training Agency, it will be too late for staff at the crab company.
Mr Ivory said: 'I hope that our MP, Norman Lamb, as a member of the government, will use his influence to make sure that north Norfolk's council taxpayers do not suffer simply because of a gap between two government funding schemes.
'The council will be writing to our MP and asking him to make sure that the government reimburses the council.'
Pete Ward, chief operating officer of Young's Seafood, said: 'We are still in discussions with representatives from North Norfolk District Council on the support provided for our staff, and so we are surprised at the timing of this release.'
He said the subject was due to be discussed at the next meeting with the council yesterday, and added: 'We are continuing to work hard to explore all possible options for the future of the Cromer Crab Company.'