MP backs setting up of regional taskforce in fight for Alnwick jobs

MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan with Dr Sally Old at a meeting with staff and management at Covance in Alnwick.
MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan with Dr Sally Old at a meeting with staff and management at Covance in Alnwick.

MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan is backing the setting up of a regional taskforce to provide support for discussions surrounding the future of an Alnwick firm.

She has been in discussions with Life Sciences Minister George Freeman to draw on the expertise of the Office of Life Sciences in talks over the future of Covance in Alnwick.

She said: “I have visited the Covance site this week to meet with staff and management. Discussions surrounding the future of Covance are ongoing, and I am doing all I can to help if my help is required – closure of the site is by no means a foregone conclusion.

“Ministers are fully committed to doing all they can to help the US corporation find a viable long-term going concern solution for our Alnwick Covance site. I am grateful to the Minister and to the county council for making all possible resources available to the team in Alnwick.

“We have a unique and highly specialised medical research facility here in the North East which is part of the UK’s world leading scientific community and I will be continuing to do all in my power to keep it here.”

Staff at Covance were left ‘worried and angry’ last month after they were hit with the devastating news that they could be facing redundancy later in the year.

The company has said that the Willowburn Avenue site will operate at a loss after five years of contractual payments by global healthcare leader Sanofi – which sold out to Covance in 2010 – come to an end after October.

It says it is actively seeking a buyer for some or all of the site and will explore ways of avoiding the need for compulsory redundancies.

The company has been marketing the premises since April, but while there has been some interest, no formal offers have been made.

There are around 130 staff employed at the site.