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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Last ditch fight to save Carlisle steel firm and 20 jobs

Staff at a Carlisle steel firm have been told their branch of the business has been earmarked for closure.

Carlisle steel firm photo
The ASD factory at Kingmoor Park

ASD Metal Services, which is thought to employ around 20 people at its base in Earls Way, Kingmoor Park Central, says it has now started a 30-day consultation over the proposed closure.

The site is among five in the UK which are facing the axe.

One local business leader has said he will do everything he can to reverse the decision.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rob Johnston said that the county should “fight like crazy” to keep heavy industry firms in Cumbria.

The news comes after figures showed unemployment in Cumbria fell again in November by 144 to 8,531.

ASD Metal Services, which stores and distributes steel, issued a statement about the proposed closure, blaming the decline in demand.

A spokesman said: “In the light of the ongoing softening of demand for steel and the increasing uncertain macro economic outlook for the UK, ASD metal services has announced that it has begun a 30-day consultation process for the potential closure of five operational sites. The affected sites are ASD Belfast, ASD Carlisle, ASD Cardiff, ASD Kings Lynn, and ASD Stalbridge.

“All relevant employees have been notified and placed at risk of redundancy as a result. The consultation process is likely to be completed by January 14.”

The statement went on to say that bosses at ASD believe the closures are necessary for the firm to remain profitable in the face of the current weak economic outlook.

The move would also allow the firm to concentrate on “core markets, products, and services”.

The statement adds: “[ASD metal services] remains confident that the majority of business from these locations can be serviced by the remaining 16 operational locations across the UK.” Neither staff at the Carlisle site nor bosses at the firm’s HQ were available for further comment.

Any customers who will be affected by the proposed closure will be contacted shortly, said the statement.

Mr Johnston said: “The market for products such as steel are international and if there’s an international downturn we suffer locally.

“To give the Government some credit, they are trying to refocus on manufacturing and we have to fight like crazy to keep these businesses here. This company will know its market and will feel they are making a prudent decision.

“But we will contact them and to see if there’s anything we can do through our network to keep them in the city of Carlisle.”

Alan McGuckin, a Carlisle-based regional officer for Unite, said the union did have members at the Kingstown site but he declined to comment further at this stage.

ASD metal services is part of the Kloeckner SE Group, which is Europe’s largest independent producer and steel stockholder. The firm is planning to invest £4m in the development of cellular beams, laser cutting, and high-definition plasma-cutting technology.

It is not known whether the staff in Carlisle whose jobs are affected will be offered work at the company’s other UK sites.

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