Axe falls on 100 local jobs

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WIGAN’S economy has been hit with a double blow after two of the borough’s best-known employers were forced to axe almost 100 posts.

Keep Britain Tidy has been left reeling after its Government grant was slashed by 90 per cent, prompting bosses to cut half the workforce.

And engineering firm BHW Components has been forced into administration, with the loss of 64 workers.

The scale of Keep Britain Tidy’s grant cut – which once stood at £5m to just £500,000 per annum – has stunned the environmental organisation’s workers.

They have been told they must now look for other streams of income to continue its green campaigning projects.

A source at the charity who describes himself as an “insider” but asked not to be named said that the employees have been left stunned and worried from the latest blow which follows on from last year when the workforce was almost halved with 65 job losses.

The national anti-litter campaigners – founded more than half a century ago – has always relied heavily on Government grant for most of its funding.

But it today denied agreeing any proposals to relocate away fropm Wigan to smaller premises in Manchester.

And said that, with the consulation process with staff having started, it couldn’t comment on claims that it was now intending to slash a further 20 posts.

The high-profile organisation famed for its clever ad campaigns has been based at Elizabeth House in Pottery Road for the past decade but only recently Wigan and Makerfield’s MPs quit the same building with the price of rents believed to be a factor.

It was based in accommodation at Trencherfield Mill for a number of years before that.

The staff member said the remaining workforce feared the board of Keep Britain Tidy would request it be “wound up” due to insufficient funds.

He said: “The grant money from DEFRA in 12 months won’t be enough to cover the office rent, never mind any staff wages and we want to know what are they going to do about that? With the building lease due for renewal in two months time we all want to know what the decision will be.”

However, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy Phil Barton insisted today that it did still have a future.

Mr Barton said: “In line with all charities and many organisations in the public sector, Keep Britain Tidy has to deal with the current economic climate and particularly the 90 per cent cut in the grant we receive from DEFRA.

“Our response to the situation we face has been to refocus our organisation to become a more supporter-based and campaign-led charity. This, we believe, will help us grow our support on the ground and enable us to thrive in the current financial climate.”

Meanwhile, workers axed workers at struggling aerospace company BHW Components are facing a lenghty battle for unpaid wages.

A total of 64 workers out of the 153 employees at the Caxton Close firm in were made redundant at Easter.

Dave Gorton from UNITE the Union said: “Because the firm has no existing money, the workers who have been made redundant are now looking to go to the state in order to get paid.”

Philip Duffy and Stephen Clancy, of financial advisory and investment banking firm Duff and Phelps were appointed joint administrators of BHW at the end of March this year.

Both are continuing to trade the business while a buyer for the company’s assets is sought.

An employee of the firm who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he was worried about the future of the company since bosses began to make redundancies last year.

He said: “It’s been an absolute nightmare, things are just getting from bad to worse. People who I’ve worked with for years and years are leaving - it’s really upsetting.”