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No government bail out to save Coryton
8:30am Thursday 14th June 2012 in Echo News
TAXPAYERS’ money will not be spent on saving jobs by keeping open the Coryton oil refinery, the Government has announced.
Up to 850 workers at the plant off the Manorway in Stanford-le-Hope face being made redundant unless a deal can be struck to take over the refinery.
A band of workers launched a second day of action yesterday, calling on the Government to save the plant.
But as they camped outside the Esso fuels terminal in Purfleet, preventing lorries from leaving the site, the Government made clear it would not provide state aid to keep it running.
A letter seen by the Echo reveals Energy Mminister Charles Hendry has ruled out providing any funds.
In his letter to Labour’s shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint, Mr Hendry says the Government has had to turn down requests from administrators and the union Unite to lend financial support.
He also questions whether state aid was used by the Government in France to keep a refinery open.
The letter says: “We concluded public money could not be used in this way to keep the refinery open, nor would this be the best way of securing a sustainable future for the refinery.”
It adds: “We have not seen any evidence which we believe would result in the European Commission determining support proposed by the administrators or Unite would be allowable under state aid rules.”
A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change added: “The difficulties faced by the refinery reflect overcapacity in the European refining sector, which has led to a number of European refineries closing. With such overcapacity, it would not be sustainable to prop up the refinery with taxpayers’ money.”
The refinery is believed to need £150million of investment and costs about £1million a day to run. Its future has been in the hands of administrators since its parent company Petroplus went bust in January.
Polly Billington, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Thurrock, said the Government could do more.
Speaking at yesterday’s rally, Unite representative Russ Ball said: “We’re trying to force the Government into negotiations. This isn’t about disruption or greed, this is about trying to save a refinery and a community.”
Esso tankers were delayed for about an hour due to the rally.
TRADERS fear Coryton’s closure will see “ghost towns” created.
Thurrock Council believes the refinery’s closure will cost the local economy £100million.
The report indicated that on top of a £30million loss of wages, £6million could be lost in locally-sourced materials.
Kerry Hawkes, of Kersbrook Road, Corringham, whose husband and brother both work at the plant, is dreading the impact the plant’s closure will have on her business.
The 39-year-old owns a beauty salon called Sassy Lashes in Woodsbrooke Way, Corringham. She said: “I’ve got massive concerns, on the impact of my business, my husband being out of work and that Corringham will become a ghost town.
“A beauty salon is a luxury and people only come in if they can afford to. But now they aren’t going to have the money to spend in my shop.
“People also won’t come to an area that is degenerated. I’m worried about my kids and their education. Corringham might not be able to attract good teachers.”
Kerry’s husband Nick, 42, who is set to lose his job, said: “I don’t have a clue what’s next for me.
“It’s a possibility we’re going to have to relocate.”