Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
Further to my oral statement to Members of 5 and 12 November, I am writing to provide a further update in respect of the MURCO refinery and the work being coordinated by the MURCO taskforce.
On 4 November, following efforts by Murphy Oil Corporation to sell the refinery at Milford Haven, Murphy’s Board took the decision to close the refinery and convert the site into an oil terminal while it seeks to sell the terminal to a third party. My officials continue to support the company to find a buyer for the site and seek to safeguard the future jobs associated with a terminal facility.
Earlier today, I chaired the weekly meeting of the MURCO taskforce, the enhanced taskforce under the Chairmanship of Roger Evans MBE has one clear objective to focus on support and assistance for those affected by the closure of the refinery and to delivery a suite of interventions to support the economic growth of the area.
Today’s meeting was very productive, over the last few weeks the taskforce has focused on the early response stage: the coordination of a programme of support and assistance for individuals directly affected by the closure of the site.
Support for those individuals is focused through MURCO’s onsite Resource Centre which opened on 10 November and provides a drop in facility for employees for outplacement advice and assistance and support.
Information events for employees and contractors have also been taking place at the Bridge Innovation Centre (BIC) over the last few weeks with representation from a large number of organisations where visitors have benefitted from advice on careers, training opportunities, self employment, budgeting and debt management. We will continue to provide advice and support for the workforce through our delivery partners and to extend that support mechanism to the contractor network.
On 9 December, we will be holding the first in a programme of events to provide business advice and support for the wider contractor network. The event will be held at the BIC and will ensure that all of those affected in Pembrokeshire have the right tools to set up, develop or diversify their business.
On 10 December a jobs fair will be held at the BIC which will include a large range of local and national employers looking to recruit from the highly skilled workforce. I am grateful to those businesses and organisations who have worked with the taskforce to identify some 1000+ skilled vacancies and who are taking an active part in next weeks jobs fair.
The taskforce will coordinate a further programme of tailored events in the New Year informed by the experience and feedback gained at the December events.
Ahead of these events, the £3 million I have made available through the Welsh Economic Growth Fund (WEGF) for individuals and businesses in Pembrokeshire, and surrounding area to create and safeguard employment in Pembrokeshire, will be launched to ensure that everyone has access to advice and support ahead of opening for expression of interests on 15 December. The fund will close for application on 23 February. That fund sits alongside the £500,000 capital grant fund I have announced to supporting smaller and microsized companies in to maximising the employment and growth opportunities in the region and which is open and will remain open until the end of January. A dedicated telephone helpline will be set up to provide advice and support to business on accessing the WEGF and Business Wales will continue to provide further advice and support through its enhanced local presence.
We continue to provide support for those facing redundancy with support through our React programs and a task force subgroup has been set up to provide me with advice on the use of other schemes such as Proact, which have been used to great effect in the past and on which I will update Members.
I have specifically announced measures to improve infrastructure in the region including on the delivering improvements to the A40 and on Superfast broadband and I will update Members on those activities in due course.
Mr Stan McIlvenny OBE as the new Chair of Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone and Roger Evans have also had early discussions on the scope of the Enterprise Zone and the opportunities it can deliver in light of the announcement and I will also update Members in due course, once I have considered their advice.
As a government, we are determined to do everything in our power to support the workforce and those in local economy of Pembrokeshire and I am grateful for the cross party support for the measures that we are taking. I can assure Members that we continue to work tirelessly to explore every avenue to maximise the economic opportunities.