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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Sellafield prepared to save The Beacon but jobs could still go

Sellafield is poised to step in and save The Beacon in Whitehaven – but redundancies can’t be ruled out.

Beacon photo
The Beacon, Whitehaven

The company and Copeland Council are exploring ways of how they can work together, possibly introducing a Story of Sellafield flagship visitor attraction.

The Beacon has been under threat since October when it was revealed Copeland council was facing cuts of £2.6m.

Financial and legal issues surrounding the potential new deal are still being ironed out with bosses keen to move things forward early in the new year.

Staff issues, such as redundancies, cannot be ruled out.

Officially, the company has ‘expressed an interest’ but stakeholders relations director Rory O’Neill said: “We certainly want to save The Beacon. I am confident we will make it work. This is an exciting development for us, it has great potential offering us a showcase facility for both members of the public and visitors to come and engage with us.

“We want to tell the Sellafield story past, present and future.

“The Beacon could be the best way to do that while at the same time working with Copeland and enabling them to continue to provide what is a fantastic visitor attraction.”

He said they had a need for a base in Whitehaven where people could meet representatives away from the Sellafield site to learn about their work.

“The Beacon has a much brighter future today than it had yesterday,” he added.

Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn said it would be ‘fantastic.’

“This is a move that has far wider benefits for the community as a whole,” she said.

“I am optimistic this partnership will ensure The Beacon’s future as well as signalling the beginning of an even more successful period in its history by using the skills, experience and professionalism that Sellafield Ltd offers.”

The Beacon runs at a loss – it costs £490,000 a year to run and closing it or finding someone to help run it would save the council £325,000 a year.

Mr O’Neill could not give any details about how much it would take to make The Beacon more financially viable, despite attracting 90,000 visitors in the last year.

The Beacon employs 13 people. Mr O’Neill said: “As things currently stand we’d want Sellafield Ltd staff here to tell the Sellafield story and the wider Cumbria story by the present Beacon staff.”

It was possible some could be transferred to the Sellafield Ltd payroll. “We are looking at all options,” he added.

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