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Production stops at Longbenton Foods’ Benton Lane factory in Newcastle Upon Tyne

By Elaine Watson , 16-Feb-2011
Last updated on 16-Feb-2011 at 10:21 GMT2011-02-16T10:21:07Z

Production has stopped at Longbenton Foods’ Benton Lane factory in Longbenton.

Management at the company were not available for comment, but the firm handling switchboard enquiries at the site in Longbenton, Newcastle Upon Tyne, confirmed that the site is not currently manufacturing anything, although maintenance staff are working there.

It declined to comment on claims that the water had been turned off.

One source close to the firm told FoodManufacture.co.uk that staff had been told not to return to work until further notice, leaving many unsure how to proceed, and unclear whether apparent financial problems at the firm are temporary or more serious.

Another added: "Until Longbenton Foods ends my contract officially I can't sign on for benefit."

Their comments follow days of uncertainty for staff at the site, several of whom contacted this publication earlier this month claiming that they had not been paid on time and in full for their services in January, a claim denied by the company.

Some employees claimed that they had received only 50% of their wages by the end of the month, although they did receive all outstanding monies just over a week later on February 8.

However, one supplier to the business, which makes frozen ready meals for the supermarkets, contacted FoodManufacture.co.uk this morning claiming that he had received a payslip, but not the money, for his work in January.

Problems at Amble site

Longbenton Foods recently hit the headlines over its attempt to buy the former Northumberland Foods factory in Amble out of administration.

While Longbenton paid a deposit before occupying the Amble factory late last year and exchanged contracts in October, administrator Begbies Traynor claims it has not been paid the rest of the money owed, and has closed the site.

A spokeswoman for Begbies Traynor said: "Given Longbenton Foods' continued inability to raise the necessary funding to complete the transaction, it is appropriate to rescind the contract [with Longbenton Foods].

“It is hoped that a purchaser can be found who is able to recommence production in Amble and the administrators are eager to talk to any interested party,” she said.

An auction to sell the assets in the Amble site is scheduled for February 23.

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