Fight to save jobs in unemployment blackspot

Support centre threatened with closure.

A Darlaston centre which has helped hundreds of local people find jobs and training is threatened with closure because of lack of funds – only months before the area is targeted as part of a multi-million pound regeneration programme.  The Jet centre in King Street could close in June if alternative funding can’t be found, despite the Black Country town being a part of a £130 million deal with aims to create jobs and help 2,800 people back into work.

The centre helps local people in an area where 22% of the working age population are on out of work benefits; according to the Office of National Statistics. Local Labour councilor, Doug James, said the closure of Darlaston Jet would be a disaster for the local area, makes no sense and would set back attempts at regeneration; he is now asking Walsall Council to step in and save it for the future.

The news of its impending closure comes only weeks after the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership announced it had received £130 million City Wide cash to create 5,800 new manufacturing jobs, 1,500 industry based apprenticeships and provide support for 2,800 long-term unemployed people to find a job.

Cllr James said: “If Jet closes it would be a stupid tragedy. It has provided welfare benefits support, training and jobs for local people for many years. It’s the backbone of the local area partnership working and the Moxley Community hub when it comes to helping people find work. Just as this City Wide money appears – which can build on its past work, experience, expertise and safeguard its future – it faces closure. It makes no sense at all.”

He added that he was now doing everything he could to help save the centre by campaigning for alternative funding. “The best solution is for Walsall Council to step in and provide short term funding until the Black Country LEP’s City Wide scheme comes on stream later this year. Jet’s seven staff has the skills, experience and contacts with local employers, the council and other agencies, which the City Wide scheme needs to succeed. So saving it is a no brainier. Otherwise we lose all that history and expertise only to try and set up it all up again, with all the costs and delays that brings. In the meantime, the real losers will be the people of Darlaston.”

Cllr James said he will be inviting the director of the City wide fund to meet him and the staff of Darlaston Jet to see how it can compliment the work of the LEP.