Assembly aid for Dairy Crest cheese plant?

9 February 2001

Assembly aid for Dairy Crest cheese plant?

DAIRY Crest could get help to develop its west Wales cheese plant, Carwyn Jones, the Welsh Assemblys rural affairs minister, hinted this week.

But assistance depends on the company deciding what to do with its huge mothballed plant at Whitland in Carmarthenshire. At what Mr Jones described as "frank, business-like and positive" talks with John Houliston, Dairy Crests chief executive, he emphasised that the two issues were linked.

"I made it clear that the Assembly would wish to work with the company on the future of the Haverfordwest cheese processing plant, provided the company came to conclusions on the disposal of the Whitland site," the minister said.

Mr Houliston agreed to go back to his directors and bring forward proposals by the end of March.

The talks were held only days after Dairy Crest announced the closure of a cheese packing facility at Carmarthen and a liquid milk depot at Marshfields near Cardiff, with the loss of 550 jobs.

Elin Jones, shadow rural affairs minister, said the closures and leaving Whitland empty flew in the face of the Assemblys policy of adding value to primary farm products close to the point of production.

"I cannot understand the logic of moving millions of gallons of milk out of Wales for processing in Gloucestershire," said Ms Jones, referring to Dairy Crests planned "super-dairy" at Severnside. &#42

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