A TROUBLED Northumberland factory was feared to have reached the end of the line - again - last night, after its equipment was put up for sale.
Machinery from the factory at Amble, which is closed having most recently been operated by Longbenton Foods, is currently being offered for sale on an auction website, alongside with the site itself.
The factory has previously failed under the ownership of Northumberland Foods and Cheviot Foods and local MP Sir Alan Beith last night called the online sale “another worrying development.” The current saga dates back to October, when it was announced that the frozen-potato factory was being bought by Longbenton Foods.
However, the factory was shut down at the beginning of December, after Begbies Traynor, the administrator which agreed the sale to Longbenton Foods, took the company to the high court.
After various legal wrangles, the factory was open for four days before Christmas until security guards employed by the administrator shut it down again.
Now the contents of the factory are being offered for sale by industrial auction company Sweeney Kincaid, which has confirmed it is acting as an agent to the administrator.
The auctioneer is offering 237 lots on its website with buyers given until February 23 to make their bids.
The site states that offers for the factory are invited, but that a sale could not be concluded before January 20 due to an existing contract.
Begbies Traynor refused to comment. Last night, Sir Alan said: “This appears to be action by the administrator of Northumberland Foods because of continuing unresolved payment issues with Longbenton Foods but it is another worrying development, because what local people want is to have the business in the hands of someone willing and able to run it as a going concern and give it the future the workforce deserves.
“All along I have been pressing the administrator to give special attention to the need to keep the factory in business.
“There were hopes Longbenton Foods would do this, but that depends on them sorting out the financial issues.”
The Journal has been told that workers were sent text messages last week asking them not to seek new jobs as “good news” was expected on the possibility of the factory reopening. John Appleby, who worked at the factory under different owners for eight and a half years as Usdaw union representative and health and safety representative, last night said: “That is not good news is it? That is the finish of it.
“It has just been doomed for a while that place. It has really just been a downward spiral.
“I think it is a shame that a profitable business that kept people in work in the area was allowed to get to the point that it is now, where it was not a profitable business.
“A lot of people in the Amble area are going to suffer because of this.”
Another ex-worker, who did not want to be named, said: “So much for wanting to keep jobs in Amble.
“I feel so sorry for the people who I know had found alternative work for them only to leave those jobs to go back there in the hope that it would work out.
“The chances of finding work around Amble now is virtually nil. It is very, very sad to see the place being broken up.”