Redundancy blow for beaten Green candidate
ONE of Ashford’s beaten general election candidates is now being made redundant from his regular job.
Green Party candidate Steve Campkin lost out in Tory Damian Green’s overwhelming victory in last Thursday’s poll and now has the double blow of losing his machinist’s job.
Mr Campkin received his redundancy notice in late April while he was on the campaign trail.
He is one of about 30 people leaving Cookson Electronics at Henwood Industrial Estate, off Hythe Road, on June 30.
He said: “I got 10 weeks’ notice, which came as I was in the middle of the election campaign.
“I don’t know what I am going to do workwise now, but at least I have a forklift truck driver licence, so that could help me.
“But I will definitely be standing in the next election and will continue my work with the Green Party. I will also do voluntary work for the RSPCA until I get a new job.” Mr Campkin, 33, of Beecholme Drive, Kennington, is in one of a last wave of redundancies after Cookson announced two years ago that it was moving operations to Holland and Hungary.
He said: “Morale is OK, considering, although some people have been working here for 25 years, so they are gutted.
“We had to train a group of workers coming over from Holland who are taking over the work, but there was no animosity towards them.”
Cookson Electronics revealed in April 2008 that 80 manufacturing jobs would go with the closure of the Ashford plant after 70 years’ presence in the area.
The pre-recession announcement said that parts of the business were moving to The Netherlands and Hungary and another part would be relocated to its UK head office in Woking, Surrey.
Moving the production lines to Europe was estimated to save the company £1 million.
Mr Campkin had joined the firm, which makes materials for components used in electrical items, just six months before that announcement. At present just 42 people are left at the site following waves of redundancies over the past year.
Operations director Steve Clark said that production would close at the site on June 30 and the last 10 to 12 staff and management would stay on the site until its complete closure by the end of September.
He said: “This has happened for economic reasons as our markets have moved eastwards. The staff have been absolutely superb and we have tried to help them with outplacement training, with CV writing and interview skills.”
Unemployment figures in Ashford are at their highest since the recession began in 2008.
The number of people in the borough claiming jobseekers’ allowance was 2,066 this March, or 3.1 per cent, compared with 811 in March 2008.
Steve Campkin and the Cookson Electronics site in Ashford