Coryton crisis: “The germans can save theirs: why can’t we?”

A LAST-ditch appeal for the government to step in to help save the Coryton oil refinery in Essex was made at an emergency meeting on Thursday by the area’s Euro MP and workforce representatives with the Government and bankruptcy administrators.

The meeting took place on the day Coryton’s sister plant in Germany was successfully sold, which Essex Euro MP Richard Howitt warned could leave Britain as the only one of five European countries which fails to keep refineries affected by the bankruptcy open.

Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP joined Unite trade union representatives calling for the Government to buy shares as part of a rescue deal, and called for an impact statement to show the costs of closure outweigh the cost of keeping the refinery open.

Coryton’s oil refinery provides employment for more than 500 permanent staff and up to 500 contractors, and today’s meeting was the first since administrators Price Waterhouse said on Monday this week that attempts to maintain Coryton as a going concern had failed.

The news today that the Ingolstadt refinery in Germany will be sold means that three out of the five plants in Europe that were operated by the bankrupt Petroplus parent company have now found buyers, whilst the Government in France has provided £16million as part of a six month-deal to maintain operations while a buyer is found.

Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP said,

“Today there was some very tough talking around the table, where I joined workforce representatives to plead with government to provide state aid to make a deal to save the refinery still possible.

“The news earlier today that the former Petroplus refinery in Germany is to be sold means that three out of five of the bankrupt company’s refineries in Europe are already saved, with the French plant given millions of pounds of their government’s money to stay open.

“Coryton is the biggest, highest quality and most efficient of the five refineries in Europe, and it is a telling indictment of our British Government that only they have failed.

“The administrators told us with their own lips that an equity arrangement by Government could still be a sound basis to strike a deal with interested parties.

“When they do the sums they’ll be forced to admit that the costs of the extra unemployment outweigh a temporary investment, which in the long-run would see the government get more than their money back.

“The time to do so is now.”

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