Call for tighter rules to stop business closures ‘when going gets tough’

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A COUNCIL leader has called for tighter regulations regarding the operation of large companies in the UK so they can not just “up sticks” and leave “when the going gets tough”.

Hull Council leader Steve Brady said firms needed to show they had explored all options for keeping troubled sites open after the US-owned company Kimberly-Clark announced plans to shut its nappy-making factory in Barton, North Lincolnshire, with the loss of nearly 380 jobs.

The announcement came amid a black week for British manufacturing and was followed by further 1,400 job losses at another US giant Ford, which revealed plans to close plants in Southampton and Dagenham.

Coun Brady said: “I do think this is something the Government should look at. It’s much easier to leave a business like that in this country than it is in other countries in Europe. You can’t just up sticks in France like that, you have to show commitment to the workforce.

“You could say Kimberly-Clark showed that commitment for that 20-year period (since the factory in Barton opened), but it seems as soon as the going gets tough there’s no thought about how they could diversify or think what other products families might want.”

The Texas-based consumer products giant said it also wants to sell factories in Spain, Italy and Poland, as going concerns and intends to shut the Barton site, which makes Huggies nappies, in March.

Mill manager Graham Tongue said the firm’s European nappy business had not been profitable since they entered the market 20 years ago and it had been a strategic decision to focus on stronger brands, including Andrex and Kleenex.

“The company seem adamant they are going to go ahead and close it,” Coun Brady added.