Cowes based company Vikoma has responded positively to Andrew Turner’s suggestion that grants paid to companies to enable them to develop on the Isle of Wight should be repaid in full should the business be relocated elsewhere. The Island’s MP made the suggestion following the closure of the Vestas wind turbine manufacturing plant at St Cross leading to the loss of over 400 Island jobs. The Vestas plant was set up with the assistance of £3.5m grant funding. The proposed new Vestas research and development facility at Stag Lane has agreement in principal for another grant of taxpayers’ money of over £6m.
Mr Turner believes that where companies simply decide to move elsewhere as Vestas have done that any public grant money should be repaid. It would then be available to the Island once again to encourage and develop alternative employment. He also believes that it will encourage companies to think much harder about moving away from the Island.
Vikoma, together with their parent company Energy Environmental Group (EEG), have plans to develop and manufacture their new cutting edge biomass technology ‘Rotawave’ on the Island. This would offer a significant step in tackling the looming energy crisis and would give opportunities for significant job creation that could lead to up to 300 jobs. The company contacted Mr Turner recently following press reports of his comments.
Andrew Turner said :
“I am very glad to hear that Vikoma think this is a reasonable suggestion. The company already employ over 60 people on the Island and have been based here for over 40 years. This is exactly the sort of company we should be encouraging to grow. With strong roots in the local economy Vikoma are much less likely to simply move their production facilities and the jobs that go with them elsewhere. I am encouraged that the South East England Development Agency (
) has held an initial meeting with senior managers and directors of Vikoma and listening carefully to their plans
“Providing employment on the Island should not be about throwing public money at companies with no long term guarantees for job security. SEEDA must make sure that they get the best deal possible for the public money that has been earmarked to help develop new jobs here. If Vikoma are willing to sign up to such a condition then Vestas should be encouraged to do so as well before any more public money is handed over to them.”
Peter Scholes, Group Managing Director commented :
“When we heard of Andrew Turner’s suggestion, that grants should be returned when businesses simply decide to leave the Island, we wanted to make it clear that this is a concept we can work with. We already have an extremely talented, dedicated and motivated workforce here in Cowes. We know there are the skills and enthusiasm on the Island to make this new technology an outstanding success. We would obviously need to ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s’ but Vikoma are here to stay and this is one way of demonstrating that.”