LEADER of Thurrock Council, Cllr John Kent has called on the government to make Coryton Oil Refinery its top priority, stressing that resources need to be invested now to ensure the local and national economy recovers as quickly as possible as a result of the refinery’s impending closure.
In a letter to Mark Prisk, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Cllr Kent highlights the work of the task force, led by the council, to support the local workforce and publish an economic impact assessment. He then calls on the government to now lead the recovery through a wider regional task force with additional investment in roads and business around the borough to replace the jobs lost and create local opportunities for Petroplus staff being made redundant
Cllr Kent, said: “The economic impact assessment shows the impact of closure on the local economy will be around 800 redundancies with 500 jobs being lost within Thurrock alone. The closure will remove more than £250m from the borough’s economy every year.
“Thurrock Council has acted swiftly and led a local task force to ensure support to the local workforce and develop a clear picture about the economic impact of the closure. It has worked with Job Centre Plus and government departments to develop support packages to help prepare workers for alternative employment. One jobs fair has already been held and a further jobs fair, organised by DP World, will be held next Saturday.
“But the situation is worse than that. The impact on the national economy is £1 billion and the government now needs to take a lead as a matter of priority.
“With strong leadership from government, they are in a position to secure other measures and initiatives to back local economic recovery. In particular, the swift implementation of enhancements to Junction 30/31 of the M25; support for proposals for a Tax Increment Finance scheme linked to retained National non-Domestic Rates; support for our Regional Growth Fund bid in partnership with North Kent; and help with further support programmes for redundant workers, including additional tailored training programmes.
“This is so important that I have asked the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to take responsibility for the existing Task Force and widen it to become a Regional Task Force, chaired by the Minister, and backed by additional Government funds. This would strongly demonstrate that Government considers this issue to be of the highest priority and help to counter some of the negative views which are being expressed locally.”