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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 11:49 GMT
Factory closure is 'national crisis'
KTH factory at Llanidloes, Powys
The factory is a major employer in the town
The assembly's rural affairs committee chief has conceded that the threatened closure of a mid Wales factory is the equivalent of 25,000 jobs losses in Cardiff.

Glyn Davies, the Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, said the feared shutdown of the aluminium castings firm, KTH of Llanidloes, needs to be taken as seriously as the shutdown of the Corus steel plants in south Wales which saw around 3,000 people laid off.

Glyn Davies AM
Glyn Davies: Closure is 'national crisis'

His comments come as the stunned staff at the company come to terms with the decision to halt work at the site with the loss of 250 jobs.

News of the closure has come out of the blue as the company - which blames the prediction of continued financial losses - was recruiting people up until two weeks ago.

Mr Davies, a former chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales, said the expected shutdown was a body blow for whole economy for the upper Severn Valley because of the difficulty in attracting alternative employment to the rural area.

He described the company's decision as "odd" given the Welsh Development Agency earmarking 1m for regeneration schemes in the area.

And he called on the Welsh Assembly Government's economic development Minister, Andrew Davies, to recognise the situation as a "national crisis" deserving the same attention as the Corus closures.

'Focus'

He said: "I really do feel incredibly pessimistic about the whole situation.

"The suddenness and the strangeness of this decision suggests to me that it's probably final.

"All you can do is have the {Welsh Assembly} Government put the same focus on Llanidloes as it did on Llanwern.

"It's difficult, there isn't a development board for rural Wales now - I don't thing the WDA for all their good efforts can put anything like the same focus on rural Wales.

"I don't think they understand they nature of the problem in rural Wales.

"But you've got to have the {Welsh Assembly} Government involved - Andrew Davies has got to become involved, Rhodri Morgan has got to take the same personal interest he did after the steelworks closure.

Shock

"And it's got to be recognised as a national crisis, it's a real challenge for the assembly government."

The factory - which makes products for cars -survived a closure threat almost exactly two years ago with help from the Welsh Development Agency.

Workers arriving for the lunchtime change of shift on Tuesday had no idea of the announcement and were shocked to hear the factory would close within three months.

Powys is not listed as an Objective One area so that source of European grant aid is not a viable option for the region.

Nor is Llanidloes an assisted area - which means that it does not qualify for regional assistance.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Steve Jones
"Workers will lose their jobs in three months unless a rescue package is found"
See also:

03 Dec 02 | Wales
28 Jun 02 | Wales
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