Worried staff facing possible redundancy at an under-threat Alnwick pharmaceutical site have spoken of their anger and concern, while the area’s MP has said the factory’s closure would be a tragedy.
Covance has announced that its laboratory in the town could shut once contractual payments with global healthcare leader Sanofi come to an end after October. There are around 130 staff employed at the centre and yesterday they were issued with formal notification that their jobs are at risk. Covance has been marketing the site since April, but despite interest from potential purchasers, no formal offers have been made.
The news has devastated those who work at the Alnwick lab. One member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: “All of the staff are quite angry. They don’t think the site has been given a chance and we live in hope that a buyer is found.
“Sanofi has been financing it for five years, but that ends after October. We feel that Covance hasn’t really been pushing to make the site break even. We feel that Covance are taking the cash and running and we feel let down by them.”
Another member of staff, who also wanted to remain anonymous, told the Gazette: “It really is bad news and it is a very worrying time for everybody at the site.”
Community leaders have expressed their concern at the announcement.
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The factory is a long-standing and important part of the Alnwick community, as well as for the North East’s scientific community.
“I am in direct contact with senior management, both in Alnwick and at the head office of Covance in America, and I will be working with them to move forwards the various business options they are looking at.
“They have put in place the formal consultation period which must be done for the staff and I hope very much that a going-concern solution can be found for the site and it’s very high-quality staff. If Covance is unable to find a buyer, it would be a great tragedy for Alnwick.”
Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle said: “This is extremely disappointing news and I express my commiserations to the staff and the uncertainty that is hanging over their heads and I hope that a buyer can be found. I have always thought that they have been a good employer, they have been good for the town and they have done their share for the community. The loss of this operation in Alnwick would be very bad. Let’s hope its closure can be avoided.”
Fellow county councillor for Alnwick, Heather Cairns, said: “I am very concerned by this and I hope that Northumberland County Council will be able to offer some support in the short term.”