In a written ministerial statement released today, the Government has announced that it will kickstart the process for selling off the Wigan-based company, the Tote. The Minister announced that they will be inviting private companies to make proposals and expect to have completed the process by the New Year in order to secure ‘value for the taxpayer’.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said:
“Yet again there is no mention of staff in the statement. The government’s top priority at the moment must be protecting jobs, with 1 in 14 people in Wigan unemployed. This process gives no certainties to the Tote and the 540 people it employs in its HQ office alone; it’s about time the vital support to racing given by the Tote was recognised and a solution that maintains that support and guarantees the long term future of the Tote was found.”
Not only do these plans fail to protect vital local jobs but I am at a loss to see how selling off an asset that is currently in profit can be considered value for the taxpayer in this tough economic climate. Last year, the Tote’s gross profit was a massive £155m. It’s clear that the Coalition is simply trying to balance the books in the short-term, without looking at the long-term consequences for Wigan.
Makerfield MP, Yvonne Fovargue and I have met with Tote board members and trades unions and will be working together to secure the best deal for staff and we will resist any attempt to sell the Tote to an overseas company. Rather than farming out work, we should be doing everything we can to ensure that profits are kept in Britain and local jobs are protected.”
Lisa Nandy has already tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament on the following lines and will continue to raise the issue with Government and on the floor of the House.
That this House is concerned that any decision involving the future of The Tote should, at the very least, encompass the principle of its assets being used to guarantee the future of horse racing in the UK and those who work within it or are dependent upon its activities and should not involve the closure or running down of its headquarters at Wigan.