Sixty people have lost their jobs with the closure and decommissioning of the Vertellus Specialities chemical plant at Seal Sands.
News of the plant’s closure was confirmed to Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham by the company’s vice president who said the only supplier of a vital feedstock had ceased production leaving them without supplies.
And now Alex has blasted the Government’s lack of industrial strategy and long-term planning – a failure that time and again is seeing quality jobs lost for the sake of a proper long-term plan and mature supply chains.
The plant, which makes 4,4′-Dichlorodiphenyl sulfone (DCDPS) for use in polymers in automotive and aerospace engineering, following the news that an important link in the supply chain is ceasing the manufacture of sulphuric trioxide, a vital component for DCDPS. Health and Safety Executive representatives are now advising Vertellus on the closure, and the company is hoping an alternative use can be found for the site.
This latest decision by Vertellus follows in the footsteps of the temporary closure of CF Fertilisers, in Billingham and the recent closure of Cleveland Bridge and Engineering in Darlington. CF Fertilisers only re-started production of ammonia and the CO2 by-product after a temporary agreement was reached within the industry – but even that is due to run out in January.
Alex, who has been vocal on the need for a joined-up industrial strategy from the Government said:
“A few months ago, the future of CF Fertilisers was on the line and now, once again, we’re seeing another plant go to the wall and jobs under threat because the supply chain is weak, and the Government had made no attempt to address this very serious issue. How many more times does this need to happen before we see a real Industrial Strategy and proper joined up thinking from the Government?
“The Business Secretary needs to wake up to the very serious issue industries such as Vertellus and CF Fertilisers are facing. We desperately need to see a strategy and a plan to tackle weaknesses in the supply chain to ensure industry is supported and jobs are protected.”