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Highland Council convener calls for support to protect jobs in Badenoch and Strathspey

By Gavin Musgrove

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The convener of Highland Council has expressed deep concern after the announcement that 40 jobs are expected to go at BSW Group’s sawmill in Boat of Garten at the end of next month.

Councillor Bill Lobban, local member for Badenoch and Strathspey, has called for action in response to the looming closure which is a hammer blow for the local economy.

Council convener and local member Bill Lobban.
Council convener and local member Bill Lobban.

The council is working with partners and local employers to arrange a local re-deployment event as soon as possible in Boat of Garten.

The details will be provided by the local authority once arrangements are confirmed.

Councillor Lobban said: “The potential loss of so many jobs anywhere in the Highlands is extremely worrying but is particularly concerning for the community of Boat of Garten which would be a serious blow to the economy of Badenoch and Strathspey.

"I am very concerned about the affected employees and their families in such a worrying time.

"While I hear BSW Group’s reasons for their announced closure of the sawmill at the end of September are, they say, due to ‘the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, increasing energy costs and a 40-year high in cost of living expenses, [and]…a global downturn in the timber industry’ - I will be asking the Scottish Government and the UK Government what they are doing for the timber industry and in particular the BSW Group to help them in these difficult financial times.

“I am very aware of the extremely difficult financial times we are all dealing with and the impact of job losses in our communities.

"The Highlands are, however, far less able than larger urban areas in the UK to withstand the serious impact of significant job losses in a fragile economic area.

"These job losses will have a knock-on effect on other industry and economic confidence as well as the devastating consequences of uncertainty and unemployment on people’s lives.”

BSW's Boat of Garten site is due to close at the end of next month with the loss of 40 jobs.
BSW's Boat of Garten site is due to close at the end of next month with the loss of 40 jobs.

Council staff will be meeting with BSW Group management to better understand the situation and discuss what support would be needed to retain the future existence of this valued timber industry employer in the area.

The local authority will also be working closely with its partners on the PACE Initiative to aid those staff seeking advice about their futures, including job opportunities in the local area.

Councillor Lobban commented: “The timber industry and all its sectors are highly important to the continued economic growth of the Highlands.

"I will be writing today to both Scottish and UK Governments to express the council’s concerns at and to find out what government support can be given to affected employees and to protect and enhance the economic future of the Highlands.”

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