Young’s ‘express interest’ in English fund

The Young's Seafood factory in Fraserburgh
The Young's Seafood factory in Fraserburgh

A UK-wide fish processing company with a Fraserburgh branch could avail of a £1.34 million incentive that may harm Broch jobs.

A Young’s Seafood Limited source has confirmed the company completed an Expression of Interest form after an English council had their Regional Growth Fund extended by the UK Government.

North-East Lincolnshire Council had their RGF extended by the Business, Innovation and Skills Department to try and save the Young’s jobs at their factory in Grimsby.

The Young’s source did however stress that the Expression of Interest form was not an application for the funding and they were committed to the statement made by Chief Executive Pete Ward last week.

Mr Ward said: “We now need to review the details and discuss this development with the appropriate stakeholders as part of the consultation process taking place following the news of the loss of a contract earlier this year.

“The formal consultation process we are engaged in at our Fraserburgh and Spey Valley sites in Scotland will take at least, as a minimum, 45 days which means that no final decisions, on the next moves that we make, can be taken until the end of August.”

An Expression of Interest form determines the eligibility of a project and is used to complement any formal application made at a later stage.

The £1.34 million fund has been met with concern and controversy in Scotland with politicians questioning whether it breaches EU regulations on state aid.

Business Minister Fergus Ewing said: ““Young’s continue to engage closely with the Scottish Government and public sector partners and any support we offer to the company must be legal and comply with State Aids rules.

“We are therefore seeking urgent clarification from the UK Government on the nature of its proposed support for Young’s Grimsby plant.”

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have both written to the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Business Sajid Javid to clarify.

Eilidh Whiteford said: “It’s of paramount importance that Fraserburgh be in no way disadvantaged in this process. The reported offer of £1.34 million is lacking in detail and in the context of what we know about state aid rules, would appear highly dubious.

“In the interests of transparency, I hope the Minister will disclose to me and to the wider public, exactly what this deal would entail.”

Stewart Stevenson added: “The Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to keep jobs in Fraserburgh. I, and my SNP colleagues, will continue to fight for these jobs, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that Fraserburgh is best placed to take Young’s forward as a successful business.

“It is astonishing that, to date, I have yet to be contacted by any UK Government representative or official to offer assistance in maintaining employment in Fraserburgh. Instead, their focus appears to have been on providing an incentive for a business to move jobs out of Scotland and into England. The Minister has some serious questions to answer and I await his response with interest.”

The UK Govenment’s Business, Innovation and Skills Department have said that no funding has been agreed and Young’s are yet to apply.

A BIS Spokesperson said: “We have extended the North-East Lincolnshire’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programme which will give Young’s the opportunity to bid for a RGF grant.

“Any funding will be subject to rigorous assessment against state aid and the RGF value for money criteria.”