Just another 'job losses' headline to the media. "Car Parts Firm in Administration" is how the BBC has put it. Another 80 jobs gone. Not that great in the scheme of things. Well, actually it is that great. The loss of Floform in Welshpool today is a lot more than that. Trouble is that its journalism by numbers today. The meaning of Floform to Welshpool is simply not grasped at all. Now, I'm not that well informed about the history, but I know a bit about it.
Welshpool is a small is market town. It developed because of its position on the banks of the River Severn, in the shadow of Powis Castle, and as a gateway into Central Wales between mountains. Its economy was based on agriculture, and its always been a major livestock trading centre. That tradition remains to this day. A new livestock market is currently being built on the edge of the town. It was the arrival of Floform in the 1960s (?) that transformed the economy of Welshpool from agricultural to predominately manufacturing. At the time it was huge - so huge that a 200 unit housing estate was constructed to accommodate the workers who would have to move in. The infamous Oldford Estate later became well known as the first in Wales to be transferred to a housing association for demolition and redevelopment. Welshpool was never the same again.
Floform was a hugely successful company - and than it fell into the Maxwell empire. It then became what is sometimes known as 'a cash cow'. Floform has gone through several different ownerships, but has still continued to provide a lot of well paid jobs in the town - winning all sorts of awards on the way. Today's announcement signals the end of a hugely significant chapter in the history of Welshpool. The loss of 80 well paid jobs in a small rural town is a mighty blow - made much worse by the 'hit' to morale, derived from the significance of its history. Today is a very sad day for Welshpool.