Liberal Democrats seek Council support for Shaw economy in advance of Shop Direct closure

Following the shock announcement that Shop Direct will be closing its Shaw depot in 2020, the Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group, Shaw Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has contacted senior Oldham Council officers seeking reassurance that the Council will offer a full range of support services to local businesses who lose trade, as well as local employees who lose their jobs, as a result of the proposed closure.

Shaw and Crompton councillors were informed via email by Shop Direct of their intentions at 12.00 hours on Wednesday 11th April 2018.

Councillor Sykes; speaking on behalf of all the Liberal Democrat Councillors for Shaw and Crompton; said:  “This will have a serious impact on Oldham’s economy, particularly in Shaw and Crompton.  Shop Direct is estimated to employ, directly or through agencies, around 2,000 staff in the north-west region; many of these are our local constituents and other residents of our Borough working at the Shaw depot (and in Chadderton).

Most will have to accept redundancy when these jobs are relocated with the company to a new purpose-built plant in the East Midlands.  But in addition to the loss of these jobs, we need to recognise that many of our small businesses in Shaw – newsagents, sandwich shops, pubs and taxi firms – rely on these workers for much of their trade and that they will suffer a significant downturn when the closure takes place.  The risk is that some of these businesses will also cease trading with the loss of yet more jobs.”

Shaw Councillor Chris Gloster added:  “My worry is that if we do not start planning for the future now, with the involvement of the company and with the involvement of the Council’s Get Oldham Working team and other agencies, we could see not only many hundreds of workers thrown onto the dole without alternate employment, but the closure of a good number of our local businesses and Shaw Town Centre taking another big hit on its footfall.”

“Unfortunately we are not inexperienced at this sort of situation, having been through this pain with the closure of Warburton’s Bakery, and we will do our utmost to help people affected by this announcement,” stated Councillor Howard Sykes.

Councillor Chris Gloster added: “although Shop Direct are moving out of town, they are not taking the fulfilment site with them, and as internet shopping is on the rise, and looks like it can only grow bigger, hopefully another fulfilment company will want to take this readymade site over thereby securing employment in Shaw’.

Councillor Sykes concluded:  “Yesterday I contacted senior Council officers, including the Chief Executive, asking them for reassurance about the support we will offer to these workers and businesses so that we can make the best of this terrible situation.   We have also offered our services as a facilitator using the established contacts that I already have with Shop Direct to arrange talks with company bosses at the highest level and at the earliest opportunity.”

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