JOBS have been secured at Dairy Farmers of Britain depots – but not in the North East, it emerged last night. Dairy Farmers of Britain, which is in receivership, announced the sale of five depots, saving 172 jobs.
THE Teesside depot of the embattled milk producer has closed with the loss of 50 jobs while there is still no buyer has been found for their base in the North East, at Blaydon, which employs 500 people, directly and indirectly.
Receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) confirmed that all staff at the Telford Road depot in Middlesbrough had been made redundant following unsuccessful attempts to find a new buyer.
Joint receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers have sold four of the depots to The Capital Dairy Company Limited and Braeforge Limited.
The sales and have resulted in the transfer of 172 jobs to the new owners. The depots sold to the Capital Dairy Company Limited are in Newark, Skegness, Spalding, Hillsborough.
David Kelly, joint receiver and manager and director at PricewaterhouseCoopers said: "After the failure of the rescue bid for Blaydon dairy on Friday we have focused on trying to secure a future for the employees in the depots."
Unfortunately, the receivers were unable to secure deals for the remaining depots – at Carlisle, Blaydon, South Shields, Benton, Aberdare, Leeds, Teedside, Scarborough, Team Valley, Norton, Yorkshire, Portsmouth, Shiregreen, South Teesside, Bedlington, Enfield and Nantwich.
The news comes after the Government promised it was trying to "find a way forward" following the collapse of the co-operative that has left farmers being offered just 10p a litre for milk.
Rural Affairs Minister Dan Norris spoke out after Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs from the North demanded to know what action the Government is taking over the dairy’s failure.
Hexham MP Peter Atkinson said: "On the subject of Dairy Farmers of Britain, it is good news that most of the suppliers, particularly in North East England, are finding new contracts, but could the Minister say anything about the future of the processing plant in Blaydon, near Newcastle?"
Speaking in the Commons, the Conservative MP added: "That is the only processing plant in the North East region, and if it closes, dairy farmers in the region will face very high transport costs to move their milk to areas where it can be processed."
Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, who represents Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: "Many stricken farmers have been exploited by buyers offering, in some cases, as little as 10p a litre-14p below the cost price-for their milk.
"Almost one billion litres of milk production capacity has been lost over the past three years, and it is immoral and counter-productive to treat dairy farmers in that way.
"Is it not ironic also that so many people wander down one aisle in the supermarket and buy fair trade coffee, but wander down the next aisle and buy to put in that coffee milk that was taken from an exploited local dairy farmer at below cost price?"
Rural Affairs Minister Dan Norris said the failure of DFOB was being taken seriously with the Government "greatly concerned" about its impact in the North East.
"I will be involved in a series of meetings in the coming days and weeks to look specifically at the issues that have been raised. It is difficult to provide any further information at this point, because the situation is very fluid." he said.
The Minister added he too had concerns about milk prices and that an ombudsman to arbitrate in disputes between retailers and suppliers could be set up.