Bosses at Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park confirm they are in talks with staff amid possible redundancies

Bosses at Doncaster’s struggling Yorkshire Wildlife Park have confirmed they are in talks with staff about possible redundancies.

It was revealed yesterday how staff at the Branton-based visitor attraction had received letters outlining plans to cut up to as many as 20 jobs.

Now bosses have confirmed that talks are under way with workers – and that they were trying to avoid compulsory redundancies.

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A spokesperson for Yorkshire Wildlife Park said: "It is with huge regret we can confirm we are considering a small number of redundancies to align our workforce with current trading. “

Yorkshire Wildlife Park is in talks with staff over redundancies.Yorkshire Wildlife Park is in talks with staff over redundancies.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is in talks with staff over redundancies.

"The extremely challenging and unique economic climate has resulted in us failing to meet projected budgeted visitor numbers.

"With the cost of living crisis and escalating park costs we had no choice to make this decision to protect the business and our long term vision.

"We are working with staff looking at all possible options to avoid compulsory redundancies."

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A letter from YWP’s chief executive officer John Minion told staff: “We recognise that this news will be very worrying for everyone, but unfortunately we have to react to the external circumstances to protect the business.”

It said bosses are currently in consultation with staff and that recruitment has been frozen and future developments at the award-winning park put on hold.

In the letter, seen by the Doncaster Free Press, and headed ‘warning of possible redundancies,’ Mr Minion wrote: “After the difficult two year period of closures due to Covid 19, there have been further unforeseen challenges over the past six months which have had a significant and unexpected impact on the company.

"The war in Ukraine, causing an escalation of fuel and energy prices, rising food prices and the cost of living crisis and the park’s finances in terms of escalating costs has also been significantly impacted.

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"The knock on effect has also meant that it has impacted on the number of visitors coming to the park, footfall is 22% behind budgeted figures for this year.

"This has left a significant gap in the finances of the Wildlife Park.

"As a result, external investors and funders involved in the business have insisted that operating costs are realigned with the lower number of visitors to the park, this includes a reduction in staff costs.

"We have already frozen external recruitment, reduced departmental budgets and halted development projects as we have sought every possible way of reducing costs.

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"These actions have helped to reduce cost but it is not enough to fill the gap of the decreased revenue from visitors and therefore we now need to take additional steps.

Mr Minion said it was with “huge regret” that the firm had to further streamline operations to protect the company during “this difficult economy.”

He added: “After considering all options, the company has concluded that there is a risk that it will be unable to continue to provide work for all its employees and that it may therefore have to make redundancies.

He said that the park was looking to avoid compulsory redundancies and minimising the number of workers impacted.

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He also said that workers may be offered alternative jobs within the company, reducing hours, flexible working and retraining employees into different roles as well as considering voluntary redudancies and early retirement.

Mr Minion added: “If the company is not able to avoid the need for redundancies, it may have to make redundancies across the organisation.

"At present, we anticipate that if compulsory redundancies become necessary, more than 20 employees and possibly up to as much as 10% of the workforce may be at risk.

"If redundancies are necessary, the company will have to decide which individuals are selected for redundancy."

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The letter confirmed that bosses were now in a 30 day consultation period with staff who may be impacted by the planned cuts.

The jobs blow comes after the impending closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which will see 800 jobs go and with up to nearly 3,000 at risk in the wider local economy.