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'Think again' plea on Dorset Enterprises factory closure
COUNCILLORS poised to close a factory for disabled workers have been urged to consider the “wider cost” of their decision first.
The recommendation is expected to be approved by cabinet members next Wednesday, but a union boss has urged councillors to look beyond the short-term savings before sealing the factory’s fate.
“Many of the people affected are quite severely disabled and I think they are going to find it extremely difficult to get another job,” said Dave Higgins, of Unison’s Bournemouth branch.
“Some have got disabled partners or children. This decision will not just affect those 23 individuals but their families as well. In many cases, Dorset Enterprises gives disabled people a reason to do something and makes them feel wanted.
“Although Bournemouth might be saving some money, there will be a cost to the country of increasing welfare benefits in addition to any ill effects on their health as a result of this.”
He said councillors should instead make maximum use of Dorset Enterprises, which makes deckchairs and other wooden products for a long list of satisfied clients, including Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate.
“They used to have a sales manager and a marketing manager but the council changed the emphasis from a business to a service,” he said.
“Now they complain it is not making money.
“To me, closing Dorset Enterprises would be a criminal waste of the talents of the workforce there and the equipment they have got.
“We are really shocked that the authority is planning to close down Dorset Enterprises after almost 100 years of providing somewhere for disabled people to work.”
Bournemouth Council claims that closing Dorset Enterprises will save it £471,000 a year in subsidy. It has promised to try and find a partner organisation that will provide employment for disabled people on the site and has also pledged to try and redeploy staff where possible.