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Caithness News Bulletins July 2003

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Hunters May Restart Under New Ownership Shortly 17 July 03
Geoffrey Minter a business man who lives in Caithness and formerly chairman of the previous company for a short time is getting ready to launch a new company.  He has purchased some of the machinery and the new company would be called Hunters Tweed Ltd and trade as Hunters of Brora Ltd.

Discussions are ongoing with the owners of the factory on the outskirts of Brora and offices would be located in Brora itself.  only part of the factory is thought to be needed for the new operation.  Mr Minter has already identified potential customers for the products he has in mind.  Mr Minter has also already obtained the trademarks, copyright, patent books and other material to allow him to set up production.

The recreation of jobs in Brora will be viewed with relief by those who may once again work under the old name of Hunters...whatever the designation and regardless of who owns it.

Hunters of Brora - Protest At Sale Of Assets 10 July 03
Local supporters of The Scottish Socialist Party have called upon the people of Brora to support a protest today (Thursday 10th July) outside the former Hunters Of Brora woollen mill in Brora, Sutherland.  The demonstration is being called in protest at the disposal of assets at an auction being held at 12 noon. The auction includes state-of-the-art machinery.

In addition to getting the modern factory, purpose-built for 5.2 million at Brora, the Directors received substantial assistance from HIE (Highlands & Islands Enterprise) and CASE (Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise) before going into liquidation with 587,000 of debts - most of it to the taxpayer.

In a statement Sutherland SSP Branch Secretary, Frank Ward, said: "These assets rightfully belong to the community. How many more times are we to see so-called 'inward investors' soak up generous subsidies before suddenly disappearing, often leaving whole communities in the lurch?"

He added: "In April, the liquidators were allowing another year to find a buyer for the whole business, yet less than three months later the most important assets have been quietly sold and the remaining equipment may to be disposed of cheaply to the carpetbaggers".

Luke Ivory, an SSP supporter from Brora, said:  "Much of the company's valuable assets have ended up back in the possession of it's former chairman, Geoffrey Minter.   Mr. Minter says he wants to acquire other items in order to keep weaving production jobs in Brora.

We believe that community ownership and management of these assets is the best way forward and we challenge Mr. Minter to say whether he is prepared to work with the community on this.  We also challenge CASE to say whether they would support community ownership with the same vigour as they have previously backed private profit". 

"Our politicians are happy to take credit for the subsidies given to these capitalists, yet blame unaccountable 'market forces' when things go wrong.  But it is the local people who will suffer, as the assets - bought with our money - are sold off".

The SSP say that the protest, starting at 11am, is broad and open to supporters of all political parties - or none - who wish to see publicly-paid-for assets and jobs stay in Caithness.