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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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More than 50 jobs saved at defence depot at Longtown

More than 50 jobs have been saved at a Ministry of Defence depot that had been threatened with closure.

Luis Eckersley photo
Luis Eckersley

Union leaders have welcomed the developments at Longtown’s munitions depot as plans for the future of the site continue to be drawn up.

And it is hoped that the MoD will put its financial weight behind a multi-million pound development to turn part of the base into an industrial estate, potentially creating hundreds of private sector jobs.

Meetings are set to take place soon to discuss how to use a £3m public works loan, which was awarded by the Government last month to develop the site into a transport and business hub.

The depot was threatened with closure until last year when Defence Minister Philip Dunne announced it would stay open with just more than 180 jobs retained.

However, it was also stated that up to 77 jobs could go.

Luis Eckersley, of the Prospect union, told The Cumberland News he was pleased with how things had developed.

He said: “We were looking at 77 redundancies and now we have got it down to 21.” He explained that this had been achieved through moving staff from work with explosives to other jobs on the site, and replacing agency staff with permanent employees.

Mr Eckersley added: “The next meeting we will have on the site about redundancies will be in September and all of these will be voluntary.”

He also revealed that there are hopes on site to win new MoD work.

He added: “We are also hoping to get the minister [Phillip Dunne] on site to show him what has been done so far and encourage him to spend more MoD money on the site and get some other MoD work moved to Longtown.

“At this moment we are still concentrating on the explosive side of things.”

Mr Eckersley said that there were also plans being developed on how to spend the £3m.

Just under 300 acres of the site, which extends for around 1,300 acres, in Longtown will be transformed into a business and transport hub.

This work is expected to be completed by 2016 and could create up to 370 jobs.

Work which needs to be carried out includes demolition of explosive storage houses, installation of a security fence and, potentially, work to upgrade the electricity supply.

“Hopefully we will be able to set up a company on site,” added Mr Eckersley.

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