In response to the news that Skelmersdale-based companies, Dresser and Matalan are looking to move their operations out of the town, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“There is no hiding the fact that these two companies proposing to move out of Skelmersdale is a devastating blow for the West Lancashire economy and in the longer term for workers.
“As soon as I heard the news I contacted Matalan and the next day spoke to the Chief Executive. He told me that jobs were safe and that they would help employees on an individual basis. He didn't share my total dismay that Matalan were leaving Skelmersdale. I sought to establish if there was anything anyone could do to help keep the firm in Skelmersdale. I am due to meet with their chief executive and chairman in the next few days to discuss the situation further.
“We simply cannot afford to let companies walk away from West Lancashire without putting up a fight to keep both the businesses and the jobs here. We must take every step necessary to make West Lancashire attractive to businesses.
“There are serious questions to be answered, why are two major employers in Skelmersdale moving out of the area? Even more frustrating is that Matalan is intending to move down the road to Knowsley, whilst Dresser is moving round the corner to Rainford. What do these neighbouring areas have that West Lancashire is apparently unable to offer them? These are all questions West Lancashire Borough Council needs to be answering, and answering quickly!
“Having spoken to the Borough Council it seems to me they are suffering from the same problems as their Conservative colleagues in Government - Not a clue what is going on, complete incompetence and no idea about how to solve the problem.
“Whilst talking a good game this Council is clearly not interested in jobs, in supporting businesses or in keeping local employers nevermind attracting new ones either that or they are incredibly incompetent. There should be a strong message that West Lancashire is a place to do business but this needs to be backed up by action.
“Take a look at the record here in West Lancashire, where the Council has year on year run down the Regeneration and Economic Development team and now sadly those poor decisions are coming home to roost.
“It seems to me that the Borough Council should have put as much effort in to fighting to keep Dresser and Matalan in Skelmersdale as they did in promoting the 100th anniversary of Coronation Park in Skelmersdale.
“In recent years I have fought hard for projects such as the New West Lancashire College and the Skelmersdale Town Centre development. We need to fight even harder to keep businesses and jobs here in West Lancashire. I pledge to do all I can. Now the Borough Council needs to step up to the plate.