North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has questioned the Economy Minister this week over the closure of REHAU’s Anglesey factory.
Global firm REHAU Group had been in Amlwch for more than 40 years before announcing in January that it may have to close, as the market for PVC Edgeband, the facility’s primary manufacturing focus, has gone into significant decline.
Following this announcement, Mr Isherwood called on the Economy Minister to help REHAU group diversify.
The closure of the factory was announced on April 23rd.
In the Assembly Chamber this week, Mr Isherwood asked the Economy Minister for an update on what action the Welsh Government is taking following the announcement of the closure.
“When I questioned you at the end of January, after Rehau's initial announcement that they may be closing the site in Amlwch, you replied that you were looking at diversifying to either other products within the Group that could be diverted temporarily or permanently to the site, or indeed third parties. You also said that this would require a degree of investment, which was what Welsh Government was specifically working on with the company at that point.
“When the Chief Executive of Rehau announced the closure on 23 April, he said: 'Careful consideration at board level' had been given to 'proposed alternatives put forward by employees', but ‘they would not be sufficient to secure the long-term future of the facility’.
“Putting all that together - the reference to your talking to third parties, your then declaration that you were considering investment, and the proposals by employees themselves - what consideration is being given to bringing all those factors together as this moves forward?”
The Minister replied:
“I do regret that the company chose not to diversify, because I'd restate the position that we took earlier in the year, that we were ready and willing and enthusiastic about supporting the business. The decision has now been made, and we are keen, through the taskforce, through the regional economic development unit, led by the Chief Regional Officer, Gwenllian Roberts, to examine all alternative options for employment of the people who are going to be affected and alternative uses for the site.
“We are working very well with the company in identifying alternative opportunities. Trying to find alternative major employers in a semi-rural area is very difficult, and therefore it requires additional attention to be given to the potential of supporting workers in starting up their own businesses, and that's why Business Wales are playing an integral part in the support that's given to them.”