Disabled workshop may have to close as funding runs out

A SHELTERED workshop which for years has provided employment for disabled people could finally close after a meeting at the city's Guildhall next week.

Options being given to councillors to be discussed at a behind-closed-doors report on the city's B Line workshop are believed to include redeployment.

But Labour believes chances of that are "very slim" given the drive for hundreds of voluntary redundancies at Hull Council.

Redeployment has been tried before without success.

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Coun Steve Brady, leader of the Labour Group, said: "They have been trying to close it for donkey's years.

"My views are that there has to be employment for disabled people; the council needs to give absolute reassurances that they will retain and put people in the right positions."

Trade union representative Martin Butler, who is registered blind, has worked for B Line for just over 25 years. He knew nothing about the possible closure until being contacted by the Community trade union's general secretary Joe Mann.

He said there has been no information from Hull Council, adding: "We have been down this road before, but this time it is a little more concerning.

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"Joe Mann spoke to me three or four weeks ago and told me of the proposals that the factory was down for possible closure of which I knew nothing.

"If anything like this is to occur it should me telling him, rather than the other way round."

Council leader Carl Minns said that funding streams had run out.

He said: "It's running at a fairly substantial loss.

"There are two or three options and we are looking at different ways to achieve the same ends.

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"It's going to be tough, I am not denying that, but there are still going to be lots of jobs at Hull Council in 18 months' time."

Of the 47 employees at B Line, just under half are disabled. Of them 15 are employed to manufacture kitchens for council houses.

A report earlier this year said that five years ago they tried to redeploy staff. However no progress was made and the factory continued to operate.

Just under 40 people are already believed to be on the council's redeployment list.

No one was available at the council to comment yesterday.

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