The boost we all need

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TODAY the Northumberland Gazette launches a campaign to help those hit hardest by the economic slump and highlight what’s good about the county.

Supported by Northumberland County Council and backed by politicians, Keep Northumberland Working aims to provide help and advice to those seeking support, as well as highlighting the opportunities available for both job-seekers and employers.

Northumberland has suffered massively from both public and private sector lay-offs in the last few years, including the latest announcement that 515 jobs are to be lost at Rio Tinto Alcan at Lynemouth.

The smelter closure is also expected to deal a wider blow to around 3,000 workers countywide in support industries.

At the same time, the famous fishing rod and tackle manufacturer Hardy and Grey’s announced it would have to cut a quarter of its workforce in Alnwick.

Before that, there were turbulent times at the former Northumberland Foods factory in Amble, after which more than 200 workers had lost their jobs.

And last week the Gazette reported that 79 jobs at Border Laird in Amble are under threat.

There have also been swingeing budget cuts at the local authority, resulting in more than 1,300 posts being axed. And many more businesses have had to close their doors or lay off staff because of the recession.

So we think it is time to turn the tables and counteract the negative news that has come to light in recent weeks and months, with positives about the business community in our county.

Keep Northumberland Working is a Northeast Press campaign and will be run across our publisher’s Northumberland titles – the Gazette, Morpeth Herald and News Post Leader.

Its aim is to highlight the good work happening in our county, while also providing help and support.

We hope to show that there are opportunities for those who need them.

And with the support of business leaders, politicians and the county council we want to be able to give you positive stories, tell you what is available and share advice with those who might be struggling to turn businesses around.

Stuart Birkett, Northeast Press managing director, said: “Since we started talking about the idea of doing this campaign, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have said that there are so many good things going on.

“We need to support them and help them and highlight the positives about Northumberland.

“I’m hoping that people who have got good stories about businesses in Northumberland, no matter how big or small, will come forward.”

Coun Jeff Reid, leader of the county council, said: “The council is very pleased to be associated with this campaign that aims to highlight achievements of local people, entrepreneurs and growing businesses in Northumberland.

“At a time when people and businesses are facing real economic challenges, it is important to promote new opportunities.

“Recognising and celebrating success also helps to make a strong case for future investment in Northumberland by both the public and private sectors, and Northeast Press is helping to lead the way with this campaign.”

North Northumberland MP Sir Alan Beith has also given his backing to the campaign.

He said: “This is a very positive initiative and demonstrates the drive and determination of people across Northumberland who are working together to create jobs and training opportunities and attract outside investment into our area, which has so much to offer.

“I fully support the campaign and will do all I can to help.”

Paul Larkin, editor of the Northumberland Gazette and Morpeth Herald, said: “It has become apparent that employers and the workforce in north Northumberland, and the rest of the county, need all the support they can get.

“We hope that this campaign will be able to meet that aim in the form of help and advice and we encourage any companies who can offer assistance or advice to get in touch to ‘keep Northumberland working’.”

In the New Year, a weekly column, written by the county council will be included in your Gazette as part of the Keep Northumberland Working campaign.

If you have a good news story about your business, or businesses in your community, get in touch with the Gazette on 01665 602234 or email northumberland.gazette@northeast-press.co.uk