WITH employees still reeling from hefty job losses at the town's Berri plant, coupled with the upcoming closure of the St George Bank branch, Leeton Shire Council has vowed to help where possible.
It was announced in August that up to 30 jobs were going from the town’s Berri factory, owned by Lion Dairy and Drinks.
The company’s blending and warehouse operations will be moved to Sydney, which has resulted in as many as 30 redundancies at Leeton.
This news was followed last month by the announcement the St George Bank branch in Leeton’s main street would be shut down in November. Council economic development, tourism and events manager Nicola James said the announcements had been a blow to the shire.
“Council is always concerned about job losses, corporate rationalisation and downsizing,” she said.
“Councils are limited in their ability to influence decision makers in this regard, (but), council feels strongly that we need to understand the reasoning behind the decisions and to test if all avenues have be explored.
“Council has requested a meeting with senior staff members from The Daily Drinks Co and is awaiting confirmation for a face-to-face meeting. The logistics of getting all representatives together is proving a challenge, but we hope to meet as a matter of urgency.
“The announcement by St George Bank to merge the Griffith and Leeton branches is a blow to the community, (but), after speaking with representatives from St George Bank, the decision was not made lightly and the basis of the decision centred around a decline in over the counter interactions.”
While the news of the job losses was concerning, Mrs James said there were still positives for the shire. She said Leeton shire was resilient.
“It is certainly a blow having the two announcements made within weeks of each other, (but), Leeton has one of the strongest community fabrics, combined with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia,” Mrs James said.
“In the next few years the region is anticipating up to 5000 new full time equivalent jobs due to growth in existing business and the establishment of new enterprises, so I do not for one minute think that these two announcements mark a death knell for Leeton. The shire has a strong future.
“Council is proactive in working with existing businesses to assist with expansion opportunities and is actively assisting new business to come to town.”