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Holyrood talks for PPE firm

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that this is a “concerning time” for staff at Alpha Solway after they announced a review of staff numbers following a drop in demand for PPE.

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By Zac Hannay
Annan and Eskdale
Holyrood talks for PPE firm

The Scottish Government is exploring different options in a bid to save jobs at the firm’s Dumfries factories.

Bosses at the business last week announced a staffing consultation, blaming the stop of NHS contracts for the situation.

They are looking at the viability of the two sites in the town, which currently employ 126 staff.

However, their Annan base is not thought to be affected by the move as it makes different products.

Speaking on the matter in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said: “During the pandemic we did build a resilient PPE manufacturing sector in Scotland and I think that is important we maintain that.

“It is the case that demand for PPE has slowed considerably between the peak of the pandemic and current demand.

“Alpha Solway is one of our partners and we appreciate the important contribution that the company made during the pandemic.

“I know this is a concerning time for the company’s staff, the business minister has spoken with the company and offered the full support of the Scottish government and South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).

“SOSE in particular is engaging with the company to explore all options and will offer any assistance that might be required.”

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth had raised the issue during First Minister’s Questions.

He cited how Scotland requires a domestic supply of PPE in order to avoid the difficulties faced at the start of the pandemic when the country relied on imports and urged the Scottish Government to investigate and try and stop any job losses.

Mr Smyth said: “Just last year Scottish Government funding of £4.8m was awarded to Alpha Solway to build a manufacturing plant in Dumfries for PPE, with a promise from ministers of 300 jobs.

“Today that firm employs fewer than half that number and has just begun a consultation on further job losses.

“The overall level of PPE we need may well have been reduced,

but surely one of the lessons of the pandemic is that never again should we be relying on importing PPE.

“It should be manufactured here in Scotland.”

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