‘Give staff cash from lease sale of factory building’

Rae Bryden, manager at Joules in Gunwharf Quays, who was the Manager of the Year winner and was runner-up in the Fashion Store of the Year category at The News's Retail and Leisure Awards in 2016.  Picture: Sarah Standing (170883-5016)

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THE government is being urged to address the future of a Portsmouth factory which employs disabled people.

Councillor Luke Stubbs is asking ministers whether workers or the city council could get some of the money made from the sale of the Remploy building’s lease.

The council owns the factory in Rodney Road, Milton, and has leased it to the government since 1948.

The deal is in place for another 40 years.

But a bid has been put in for the lease of the Portsmouth factory, which is part of Remploy’s packaging business, and more detailed offers are now being drawn up.

Transactions will be made before August but there is no guarantee the site will be sold.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘My view is that if the government is to close the business, it should either hand the building back to the council or use the rent or lease payments it will receive to help those losing their jobs.

‘I will write a letter to a minister to that effect.

‘It seems obvious that jobs will be lost and there will be more unemployment.

‘I understand why the government is making this restructuring and that the business model is somewhat outdated.

‘This is about raising the issue and hoping that the government will do something.’

The company is largely made up of disabled workers.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said he hopes jobs will be protected.

‘I am delighted that there is a bid in place,’ he said.

‘But I think we should be making sure that the jobs that are currently there are safeguarded.

‘The workers have got a good reputation within the sphere of box making.

‘I have always been impressed with the people who do it.

‘They work well as a team and, as a city council, we should be doing all we can to find resolutions.

‘If there is anything more we can do then we will do it.’

A Remploy statement said: ‘The board has invited bidders to submit best and final offers for these businesses and sites.

‘Where negotiations are successful, the company aims to complete transactions before mid-August.

‘There is no guarantee that the bids will lead to successful transfers of ownership.

‘The continued employment of disabled people is a key part of the criteria for a successful sale.’