Glimmer of hope for those left jobless by closure of Celanese Acetate in Spondon
BUSINESS leaders have expressed their sadness at the loss of an iconic Derby employer and 130 manufacturing jobs.
Celanese Acetate has ceased production at its Spondon plant after almost 100 years.
Its American owners, Celanese Corporation, decided to shut the factory, which at one point employed around 20,000 people, because of high UK energy costs.
Yesterday was the final day of production at the site, which makes acetate tow and flake used to make cigarette filters.
While business leaders have expressed their sadness at the closure, some believe there could be hope for the redundant workers.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed that the number of people looking for work in Derby in October was 8,090, compared to 8,386 in September, representing a fall of 296 or 3.5%.
It is the third consecutive month that the number of jobseekers has fallen. Since July, the number of claimants has dropped by 421.
In the rest of the county the number of people looking for work has fallen for the second consecutive month. In October there were 15,045 people looking for work – 283 less than in September, which is a drop of 1.8%.
It means that, since the start of the year, the number of jobseekers in Derbyshire outside the city has fallen by 2,350.
The statistics in Derby and Derbyshire buck the national trend, where the number of jobseekers went up last month by 10,100 – to 1.58 million.
George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said that although the loss of Celanese was a blow, the overall picture in the county was positive.
He said: "Once again, the number of claimants is down significantly in the city and county, which is particularly pleasing given that, nationally, the count has increased. However, this news is tinged with sadness given that the city is facing 130 job losses after the Celanese factory closed its doors.
"The message to jobseekers is to remain positive because the economy is slowly starting to move in the right direction.
"Overall unemployment across the East Midlands has fallen significantly in the last three months and job centres across Derbyshire were notified about more than 8,500 new vacancies last month.
"A significant proportion of private-sector businesses have plans to grow over the next 12 months and many have indicated they are looking to take on more staff."
Peter Richardson, chairman of Derby Renaissance Board, was also recently appointed chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.
He said: "We had known for sometime that Celanese would eventually close – but this does not stop this being any less of a shock to those staff losing their jobs.
"I hope they engage with the support network, such as JobCentre Plus, as soon as possible. The support is out there and figures would suggest that the jobs are too."