WHILE the national economy is slowly making it’s way out of recession, the bad news keeps coming for Batley.
A few days ago, Fox’s Biscuits – a major employer in the town – confirmed that 46 staff would be made redundant at their factory on Wellington Street.
The move is part of an efficiency drive by owner Northern Foods, with robots increasingly replacing workers.
As one of the town’s flagship companies struggles, what would the election candidates for Batley and Spen do to revive the economy in the constituency?
Conservative candidate Janice Small believes workers made redundant need help re-training.
“We will provide training for people made redundant, like those at Fox’s,” she said. “At the moment the Government wants middle-aged people to pay for their own training.”
Mrs Small added that Batley and Spen needs a forceful MP who will demand the constituency gets extra funding.
She said: “If I’m elected, on day one I will go straight to Yorkshire Forward and demand money. I will be asking for regeneration money because Batley and Spen has been at the end of the line.
“I would also go to Brussels because the European Union has billions for deprived people.”
Mrs Small believes education is the key to improving Batley’s economy.
She said: “Small businesses are telling me the kids are not being educated properly. They can’t add up, their English is appalling and their social skills aren’t that great.
“We have to train children for the jobs that are around instead of training them in media studies.”
David Exley, the BNP’s candidate in Batley and Spen, blamed the European Union (EU) for the loss of jobs in the area.
He said: “We’ve got the skills and the knowledge here but jobs are going abroad where the wages are lower. We entered a trading agreement and we’ve ended up with a big state which allows people to come over here and lets manufacturing leave the country.
“We ought to be stopping these industries from leaving the country, but we can’t because we’re in the EU.”
Mr Exley added: “Fox’s can’t expand to the degree they want in Batley because they’re in a confined space. They need help to relocate within our area instead of the other end of the country, or Poland.”
The BNP man added that traders had to do more to revive Batley town centre. He said: “The shopkeepers need to box clever, they need to offer different things from the supermarkets.”
Green candidate Matt Blakeley thinks Labour MP Mike Wood has not done enough to help Northern Foods.
He said: “It’s frustrating because I don’t feel Mike Wood has been making enough noise at Westminster about the importance of Fox’s to Batley.
“We need to make sure Northern Foods keep their Fox’s heritage in Batley. They need to have all the support to make their site more efficient because they run on very fine margins.”
Mr Blakeley added that his party would revive the economy by investing in energy-saving.
He said: “We’ve seen in Kirklees that the Warmzone insulation scheme has created hundreds of jobs and we need to do more of that.”