LOCAL residents will have shared my despair after last week’s announcement by EE that they will be closing their contact centre in Greenock.

My thoughts are with the approximately 450 workers who will now have their roles based in BT Group’s office in Glasgow.

This is just one of a number of major employment hubs that have announced plans to leave our local area in the last year, which worries me greatly for the future of our local community if we do not encourage businesses to invest.

Most importantly, BT (who own EE) have given reassurances that they will not be seeking to issue redundancies to current staff, for which I am glad of.

I am told that additional travel costs will be discussed with eligible staff and any staff not within commutable distance to the company’s new location will be consulted about their options which can include reskilling and redeployment.

I understand that relocation won’t be suitable for everyone which is why I have arranged an urgent meeting with BT next week to discuss these measures and to seek assurances that local workers will be protected.

If anyone impacted by this announcement has any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will raise these with BT personally. I will otherwise be monitoring this situation closely.

As I have said, this is just one of a number of major employment hubs in Greenock that have announced they are closing their doors.

Just last year we saw Amazon confirm the closure of their Gourock warehouse which resulted in an estimated 300 job losses, while Berry BPI also announced their proposed factory closure putting 65 local jobs at risk.

With local government budgets being squeezed over the past year the loss of numerous major businesses will deeply cut Inverclyde Council’s much needed business rates income.

Local businesses in Greenock will also suffer, as the reduction of after-work shopping and office lunches will present another challenge to an already struggling high street.

Our area is in desperate need of more business investment, which is why this development has proven to be a source of real disappointment for local residents and representatives alike.

I am glad that MPs, MSPs and councillors of all parties have joined together in protest against this pattern of business closures in Greenock.

I urge the Scottish Government to join these cross-party calls and assist Inverclyde Council in its fight to keep businesses open and attract new investment and employment to our community.