21 March 1997

120 face axe at safe ADAS

ADAS is to shed 120 staff over the next six months despite chief executive Philip Needhams recent pledge that all 1400 jobs at the privatised service would be safe.

The announcement, made in a letter to staff, blamed the job cuts on the reduced amount of research and development work being carried out for MAFF.

But unions blamed MAFF for leaving ADAS with a big redundancy bill. David Luxton, Institute of Professionals, Managers and Specialists spokesman, said: "The new owners will be saddled with a large redundancy bill that should have been met by MAFF while it owned ADAS."

An ADAS source claimed the job losses were not a direct cause of privatisation: "It has been a case of decreasing projects being carried out for MAFF. Income will be less and therefore costs have to be reduced.

"Even without privatisation, we would have lost the MAFF work because of their R&D cutbacks."

Further ADAS offices may be closed, but full details had not been finalised, the source added.

An NFU spokesman said farmers would be concerned over any knock-on effect in the availability of advice from consultants.

"In terms of logistics, new technology means that ADAS does not need so many centres, but farmers need to know how quickly consultants can get on-farm," he added.