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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 15:39 GMT
Meeting vows to save cheese plant
Cheese processing generic
The Aeron Valley creamery is currently in a consultation period
Hundreds of people attended a public meeting in Felinfach, Ceredigion on Tuesday to discuss the job crisis facing the area.

An action plan was formed to try and save 44 jobs which will be lost when the Aeron Valley cheese plant closes at the end of the month.

Last year 115 jobs were lost when the nearby Dairygold factory closed.

Support will be sought from the assembly government to stop the Aeron Valley plant being mothballed.

The company has expressed its keenness to work closely with the Welsh Assembly Government to secure future prospects for its existing staff
assembly spokesman

The owners of the Aeron Valley factory, Lactalis McLelland, have blamed the closure on mounting losses, and said some staff could be offered work in Scotland.

But Ceredigion AM Elin Jones has said closure would have a "devastating impact" on the community of Felinfach, and the National Farmers' Union (NFU) warned it would be a "hammer blow" to the Welsh dairy industry.

Last month, Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones pledged to try to find a buyer for a factory, saying it was important Wales did not become a mere producer of raw milk without the added value of processed products.

Future prospects

On Wednesday he met senior managers to discuss the reasons for closure and whether the assembly government could help alleviate the impact on workers.

An assembly government spokesman said the meeting was "constructive".

"The company has expressed its keenness to work closely with the Welsh Assembly Government to secure future prospects for its existing staff," he added.

Owen Llywelyn, local county councillor
Over 50 years of expertise in high quality milk production will be lost
Owen Llywelyn, county councillor

Around 150-200 people attended the meeting and brought together farming union and local government representatives, politicians, farmers and Aeron Valley Cheese workers.

Speaking before the meeting, Owen Llywelyn, county councillor and campaign group member, said: "With the closure of this plant, over 50 years of expertise in high quality milk production will be lost.

"The additional costs of transporting milk from Ceredigion to Haverfordwest will impose greater strains on the milk producers' already wafer-thin margins."

Last month Lactalis McLelland's industrial director, Matt Glover, said a comprehensive review of the company's operations had "examined and exhausted all possible alternatives to closure".

He added that despite investment in the plant and the staff's outstanding efforts, the losses had continued to mount up.




SEE ALSO
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