Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 20:22 UK

Group meets over threat to plant

The 'pot line' at Anglesey Aluminium
The plant currently buys cheaper electricity from Wylfa

A community action group set up to deal with the impact of the potential closure of Anglesey Aluminium has met for the first time.

The group, which includes politicians and company management, said it had been "a very constructive meeting".

The Holyhead company has said it is likely to stop operating this autumn and has 139 voluntary redundancies.

There could be 300 more redundancies if a contract for cheap electricity from Wylfa power station ends in September.

The company has said the end of the 10-year contract will make its smelting operation too expensive.

The community action group is trying to find ways of dealing with the impact of hundreds of enforced job losses, if the cheap power ends.

We're looking for every kind of funding that we can get to support the workers in the local community for retraining, reskilling
Councillor Clive McGregor

Ieuan Wyn Jones, the economy and transport minister who is also the AM forAnglesey said: "Even if nothing else happens 140 people will be leaving the plant so I think we really have to put all the support systems in place to help these people."

It is still hoped a government aid package may lead to the smelting works remaining in operation but redundancy notices were being handed out at the plant on Friday to 140 of the 500 staff.

But earlier Mr Jones, who is also deputy first minister and a member of the group, questioned the commitment of Anglesey Aluminium's owners to stay on the island.

He said he was disappointed the company had not accepted offer of UK and Welsh Assembly Government aid.

The firm has rejected financial support of £48m over four years saying it was generous but not enough.

Kick off

The deal works out as £12m a year, with £10m from the UK government and £2m from the assembly government.

Councillor Clive McGregor, leader of Anglesey council, described what the community action group is hoping to achieve.

"We're looking for every kind of funding that we can get to support the workers in the local community for retraining, reskilling.

"There'll be job fairs on the plant and Menter Mon will assist with enterprises if they want to kick off their own business."

It is estimated that the wage bill for Anglesey Aluminium's workforce is about £18m, which is then spent locally.

Tony Thompson, who runs a local building firm which has a £300,000 contract at the smelter throughout the year, said closure would have a major impact.

Harsh reality

"It would be pretty desperate really as we've got eight people there so probably a good proportion of them would lose their jobs, " he said.

"Employment opportunities aren't good elsewhere at the moment we do work for the local authority but spending on their projects is going down now, so I would imagine certainly a proportion of them would be made redundant."

Earlier on Friday, plant managing director David Bloor said a new cheap energy deal could still save the plant.

Mr Bloor said the company had to remain realistic, and plan for the plant's shutdown in September.

"These are tough times we are in, tough economic times, it's just the harsh commercial reality of where we are," he said

He said the £48m offer of aid, jointly with the UK government and assembly government, was generous but they had looked closely at the figures and could not accept the deal.

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