Falkirk’s economy had good and bad news this week with 100 jobs being created at bus builder ADL, mixed with the confirmation of 200 being lost at sink maker Carron Phoenix.
Bus builder Alexander Dennis Limited is celebrating a multi-million pound cash boost.
The £7.3 million grant from Scottish Enterprise will drive its programme to develop, design and produce low carbon vehicles - and create over 100 new jobs.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited ADL’s works in Glasgow Road, Camelon, to announce the news.
Chief executive officer of ADL Colin Robertson said: “We’re delighted Scottish Enterprise supports us in our aim of developing low and zero emission buses for the global market.
“We look forward to local authorities and cities around the UK and abroad seizing the opportunity to introduce these next generation vehicles which bring massive benefits to passengers, city dwellers and the environment.
“This investment in new product development enables ADL to stay at the forefront of industry at home and overseas and will help us achieve our strategic goal of a £1 billion turnover by 2020.”
Councillor Dennis Goldie, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for economic development, said: “Alexander Dennis Limited is a great example of how a traditional firm can transform itself using new technology to become a world-class operation meeting the increased demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendly buses.
“It is a significant employer in the Falkirk area and, with the awarding of this grant, we are optimistic its future is stronger than ever before.”
Alexander Dennis is the UK’s biggest bus manufacturer, employing 2500 across the world including more than a thousand at its building centre in Camelon and design base in Larbert.
The £7.3 million from Scottish Enterprise is the country’s largest ever grant of this type and ,as well as creating 101 new jobs, will secure those of 126 existing employees.
The First Minister described ADL as “one of the world’s leading bus and coachbuilders”.
She said: “This is a true Scottish success story and this research and development award will support a low carbon vehicles project integral to its growth and export strategy to capture more of the increasing global demand for environmentally friendly buses.
“ADL’s continued commitment to invest in Scotland is testament to the skilled workforce here in Falkirk. We’ll continue to work with manufacturers like ADL to innovate and expand and we will shortly set out further measures to grow the Scottish economy.”
Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish Secretary, said; “Our members at ADL should be warmly congratulated. Their skills, knowledge and hard work are the foundation for the company’s success.
“Scotland has a skilled workforce that can support a revitalised manufacturing sector. All they need is the right support and investment. ADL shows that, when those things are in place, our workers can create innovative products that will find a place in the global market.”
The chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, Dr Lena Wilson, claimed: “Scottish businesses like ADL have been making great strides in research and development in recent years and more international investors are now choosing Scotland as their innovative location of choice thanks to our great business environment, strong skills base, effective support network and academic excellence.
“As a result our businesses are equipped to target more international markets than ever before.”
Moves to save around 200 jobs at Carron Phoenix have been in vain as the union and employees reach an agreement over redundancies.
The sink manufacturer’s owner, Franke Group, announced the closure of the Falkirk plant in April sparking attempts by Falkirk Council, the GMB union and the Scottish Government to explore ways to keep it open.
The company says it is moving manufacturing to a new purpose-built site in Slovakia to cut costs in a globally competitive market.
The plant will remain open until autumn 2017 with employment guaranteed until May next year for the majority of employees.
One worker said: “We didn’t hold out much hope that the plant would be saved, once they said it was closing we knew that was it.
“Workers feel really let down by the company, there’s people been here for decades and that means nothing now. Also, there’s plenty of work, they’ve even took temporary staff on to cover the orders.”
GMB’s Gary Cook said: “It’s been a very tough journey and an emotional roller coaster ride for my members since the company made its announcement to close the plant, but through difficult and challenging negotiations I’m glad we were able to get a package which was accepted by the membership.”
The site in Stenhouse Road is historically linked with leading the Industrial Revolution when the Carron Company started it as an iron foundry, which operated globally. It is famed for making the cannons used by Wellington at Waterloo, Royal Mail’s famous red telephone boxes and postboxes.
Councillor Craig Martin, leader of Falkirk Council said: “We have worked hard with the company and other agencies to attempt to secure the future employment prospects of the Carron Phoenix workforce and it is unfortunate that despite the best efforts of all involved, this intervention could not prevent the commercial decision taken by the company.
“The loss of a company with such historical roots is a significant blow to the Falkirk area. We will continue to offer support where we can and hope that employment for everyone affected can be found.”
Franke operations director Bart Doornkamp said: “Over the past few weeks we’ve been engaged in a series of constructive meetings with the joint unions, GMB and Unite, and are pleased that we’ve agreed a comprehensive redundancy scheme for production staff.
“In addition, a broad programme of support, including application and job search assistance will be offered to all employees. Consultation continues with non-production staff and the company is hopeful of agreeing a settlement soon.”