Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pfizers to Close in Sandwich

You may have heard the unhappy news on the Pfizer closure on the BBC and I've been over at the Thanet District Council offices working on the official press release, which is shown further below and is available on the council web page.

Today, one online news magazine commented: 'The impact of outsourcing and the internet means people in the UK will need to create their own jobs, rather than hope to walk into a job as in the past.

There is hardly a job left which cannot be simply and cheaply outsourced and offshored. Where once manufacturing work was sent abroad, increasingly it is design work and other added-value services which also head offshore.'

Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said: ‘This is a shocking wake-up call. The pharmaceutical industry will go where it can recruit the best trained scientists and can interact with the best university researchers.'

One very small ray of sunshine is that only a couple of weeks ago BT announced that Sandwich was going to be one of their handful of 'super' broadband exchanges and so may prove an attractive location for 'incoming' hi-tech companies if they can be attracted to the area!

Thanet District Council commented:

"News of Pfizer’s decision to cease operations at its Sandwich site has come as a huge blow. Leader of the Council, Cllr Bob Bayford said “This news is an enormous setback for Thanet and the East Kent economy as a whole. Many of the staff who work there live in Thanet, so the unexpected closure of such an important contributor to the East Kent economy is especially worrying, particularly at a time when both the national and local economy face equally daunting challenges.

Thanet’s unemployment level is already the highest in the South East so this is going to hit us particularly hard, at a time when the economic recovery is still very fragile.

We will be seeking an urgent ministerial meeting with our local MPs to see what action the government can take to mitigate the job losses. We call on the government to intervene and provide tangible opportunities to attract business investment into East Kent to replace the jobs lost. We will be redoubling our efforts to attract businesses and investment into Thanet.

We will also be working closely with our neighbouring councils and with the county council to mitigate the impact of Pfizer’s closure on surrounding businesses and the local economy.”


Anonymous said...

A very sad day for everyone in Thanet and the sarrounding villages.
This has been in the air for so long and now it has finally happened it still comes as a shock.

The local economy will undoubtedly be hit by the fallout of this closure, no other employer could cause this level of disruption to our local economy, perhaps the "leaders" of the sarrounding councils could have worked more closely with Pfizer to help ease the obvious difficulties they were facing, they are closing up shop and moving away purely because this is no longer a financially attractive place to do business.... question is... who has made this situation and why were there not any moves to solve the problem.
Once again Thanet will lose out and be cast under yet another dark cloud of unemployment and disintegrating local morale.
Now lets see just what our council are made of : will they promote new enterprise, encourage new ventures, lead by example on being cost effective and efficient creating new jobs and opportunity for local people, I think we all know the answer.

DrM. said...

Pfizer's last results were very buoyant and it's as wealthy as a small nation state. The decision may reflect a general movement away from Europe now by large companies towards Asia Pacific. Lower corporate taxes, a large pool of skilled workers and a cheaper workforce and less red tape

It's a sad day for local jobs at a major employer but there's also a much bigger picture to consider and it surrounds the declining competitiveness of the UK workforce in a globalised and highly competitive economy. Fifteen years of Labour government hasn't helped, like it or not!

Anonymous said...

Pfizer are an multi-national company and such decisions are all too frequently driven by costings and profits in one place as opposed to another. Little local or central government could do about that and, as the previous commentator so rightly points out, this has been on the cards for some time. Shame they should take this decision though just as a new and highly expensive road is being constructed, largely for their benefit.

Replacing these jobs is well outside the remit of any local council but certainly our East Kent MPs must now show what they are made of. It is through them that TDC and neighbouring councils must direct their lobbying for it is they that have the access to the government. In the circumstances it might help that, for the moment at least, they are all of the same political shade.
A Clive Hart led council would be too busy trying to blame David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher, Ted Heath and anyone else from Tory history they could remember to actually do anything positive.

Peter Checksfield said...

Let's hope that all local politicians work together in an effort to make this as painless as possible for the local workforce instead of just using it for the usual political point-scoring...

Andrew said...

Now, more than ever, we need leadership from our local authorities and MPs, free from political infighting and point scoring. KCC, TDC, CCC and DDC all need to work together with businesses to formulate a plan to entice large scale investment into the area.
That said, a lot of the local infrastructure improvement (access roads etc) would not have happened without Pfizers regular threats to leave.

Anonymous said...

Very well put Peter, although with the recent "handbags at ten paces" farce I think it will fall on deaf ears.
This bunch of half wits had better be planning and planning well,if they fail to react in anything less than a positive and effective way then i hopw and pray that the public will finally use their votes and get rid of the whole damm lot of them.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps now all of the rediculous fighting going on to try and stop the China Gateway and Manston airport expansions will stop. THANET DESPERATELY NEEDS JOBS and they are needed fast !!!

Direct financial and industrial investment in thanet will provide jobs, raise peoples expectations and promote prosperity into every area of the Island. Where can there be any argument to that ideal when the benefits are so enourmous to so many, compared to the moans and groans of a small minority.

TDC get of your backsides and get ball rolling, the clock is now well and truly ticking..

DrM. said...

I can't recall when I was last called a 'Half wit' so it may be a first!

Anonymous said...

As always simon there are some exceptions to the rule..... maybe now is your time to shine and make a run for the head seat of this council. I think you would do a good job and could turn things around.

Although, Thanet has never been a place to promote forward thinking and intellect !!

Anonymous said...


With your contacts and experience you should be given a leading role in sorting this

Andrew said...

And now we see why last year's governance consultation was so important and why the shambles that it became has so ill-served the people of Thanet.
In this time of crisis it is vital that the local authority is led by someone who has the expertise to do something and who is free to choose equally well-qualified people to help him. This we could have had if the mayoral option had been accepted. As it is what we will get is Bob Bayford or the Leader of the local Labour Group (whoever that may be) selecting their own cronies for Cabinet.
I fully endorse the two Anonymous entries above - no matter what your political persuasion there is no doubt that there are few people on this Island with the contacts, and possibly the influence that Simon has. This is not a matter for petty and puerile political squabbling.

DrM. said...

Andrew. The government consultation is a Red Herring I'm afraid and you might have got something or someone, far worse than cabinet politics as a consequence. Because the present Government is changing the legislation in May, local authorities were instructed to do the very minimum as it would become quite irrelevant. Even more importantly, we can't afford the huge sum, that mayoral elections would have cost the public purse.

Lastly, very few observers expect to see local councils survive in their present form over the next few years and it's more likely that you'll see mergers, a bit like football clubs but without the transfer fees. Shared services between authorities is simply a step in that direction.

Andrew said...

Still come back to my original thoughts, which are that in this difficult time we need a sort of "Government of National Unity" but what we are going to get is more of the same unless someone is willing to put their head above the parapet and try and make a go of it.
No point suggesting that people like myself stand in the elections; we would have large political machines to overcome and even if we succeeded in beating off entrenched local party politicians there are not enough of us on this Island to be able to "form a government". So we have to rely on those who are already there and are likely still to be there after the elctions. The next year or two will show which of you is a lover of wisdom, which a lover of honour and which a lover of gain.

Peter Checksfield said...

I think council mergers would be a good thing. Maybe then we wouldn't have silly situations like TDC arguing for China Gateway on our farm land when Richborough (just across the border) would be far more suitable.

At least there's some good news for us in North Thanet today:


DrM. said...

Watching the BBC And Ch4 coverage it's pretty clear that Sandwich is a victor of globalisation. As a nation we sat on our hands for too long and ignored the warning signs. As far back as the mid eighties I sat on a Parliamentary group with the like of Shirley Williams and Prof John Rae and a Green paper was produced warning of the downstream consequences of not investing in engineering and science education and skills in contrast with the nations such as Germany and Japan which were.

Under New Labour the situation worsened radically as education dived into soft subjects to create an impression of academic improvement when in fact we were steadily falling behind in the OECD rankings

As vice chairman of The Conservative Technology Forum, I can tell you that my colleagues have been warning the Westminster team in opposition that R&D was moving inexorably out of Britain towards Asia Pacific. Opposition is now in Government and surrounded by the biggest financial and dare I say it, educational disaster in Modern British history

Pfizer is simply a symptom of a far more serious problem in the economy requiring urgent attention

Andrew said...

Thank you Simon; and the answer is.....?

DrM. said...

The answer is more than a little depressing because we have lost a generation and it's my guess it will take at least three generations to recover some part of the ethic we once had. ie valuing education and hard work. Taking responsibility for own lives and preferably sending the Human Rights Act back to Brussels and replacing it with one that protect common sense and the working economy alike!

Andrew said...

I agree entirely. Things started going wrong when it became a crime to be more academic than the next guy and started accelerating downhill when it became Government policy that 50% of 18 year olds were to go to University. Add on to that the stupidity of creating a welfare state on top of the mountainous post-War debt, rewarding silly teenagers who became single mums by given them a council house, until becoming a single mum was a career choice, etc, etc and you start to get the picture. This will undoubtedly smoke out the armchair socialists who contribute to this and other blogs but w*f!
However, neither you nor I will be alive in three generations time so I still ask; what's the answer...?

DrM. said...

If it's hope you're looking for Andrew I'm short of platitudes.
All we can really aspire to do is achiev no further harm while building a foundation for change and improvement.

I can only make decisions and contribute to policies that I in turn hope will make things a little better for all of us over time but it will be a slow and sometimes painful process.

There are times when we get things wrong but everything we do is with the objective of making things better within the very tight straight jacket of regulations that determine how decisions can be made.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
I would make them pay everybody's wages until they reach retirement age, then, turn the building into a Jobcenter, or shopping center.