I suppose today's announcement from Control Techniques in Newtown of 30 redundancies, and that the factory is going onto short time working is bad news for the Mid Wales economy. But it doesn't seem such bad news when you've been expecting it to be worse.
Control Techniques is a hugely important employer in Mid Wales, and has been ever since Trevor Wheatley, Kevin Curran and Ken Briggs moved in their small little business, called KTK perhaps 30 years ago. It grew, and grew, and grew and was eventually taken over by its current American owners, Emerson. One of the biggest decisions I was ever involved in was to build the R&D headquarters for the company in Newtown - well before Emerson were on the scene. At the time, I was Chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales. My view was that the building had to be of sufficient stature to encourage any future owner to stay in Newtown. That seems to have been a decent decision. There are about 350 employed in the manufacturing unit, and perhaps another 100 in the R&D unit - big numbers for Mid Wales.
I'd heard rumours about redundancies at Control Techniques, and was fearing really bad news. Today's announcement informs us that there are to be 30 redundancies - voluntary in the first instance. And there is to be a reduction in working hours of one day per fortnight. Of course its disappointing when jobs are lost, but it could have been a hell of a lot worse. I spent the morning in Welshpool Town Hall, listening to representatives from Jobcentre Plus, Careers Wales, and TGAL (Business Advisory Service) explaining options and rights to the 90 strong Floform workforce who were just ordered to leave the factory with 5 minutes notice last week - one of the worst examples of disgraceful treatment of workers I've ever seen. Now that's what I call bad news.
Control Techniques is still there, and looking strong, and employing well over 400 people in Newtown. Bearing in mind what's happening in the manufacturing sector, today's news doesn't seem that bad.