Dundee council leader on Michelin: ‘It’s not over. This is not the end of the road’

Converting the Michelin factory to provide small-scale tyre production alongside research and development could be one way to preserve the company’s presence in Dundee, the leader of the city council has suggested.

John Alexander said he had been “blindsided” by the news of the factory’s proposed closure in 2020, but insisted the conversation with the French manufacturer was “not over”.

Tele reporter Lindsey Hamilton interviews Dundee council leader John Alexander

Mr Alexander told the Tele that work had already started to find a solution to the city’s jobs crises, which comes after NHS Tayside papers revealed plans to shed 1,300 health board posts over several years in order to plug a hole in its finances.

It means that, alongside the 845 jobs at risk at Michelin, Dundee could stand to lose more than 2,000 jobs in the next few years.

Asked if the council had got its priorities right by focusing on the £1 billion regeneration at the Waterfront and the opening of the V&A Museum, Mr Alexander defended his administration’s decision-making.

“We needed this investment,” he said. “We believe it will help create jobs and raise the city’s profile to encourage further investment.

“The Michelin news blindsided me. I wasn’t expecting this at all. Despite September’s announcement, I thought there was going to be time to work with Michelin and find solutions. The council had no say or influence over this decision but our priority is the workers and their families.”

Staff leave the Michelin factory in Dundee after the closure announcement

Mr Alexander added: “The conversation over the Michelin situation is not over. We do not accept that this is the end of the road.

“It’s too early to say what a possible solution could be but among the options to be considered is somehow carrying on some level of small-scale tyre production alongside research and development and innovation at the site.

“I don’t want to give anyone false hope but these are the type of conversations I am planning to have over the next week.

“I’ve already been in talks with Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Economy Secretary Derek Mackay, Michelin and the trade unions.”

Mr Mackay visited the Michelin factory yesterday and announced a new action group to “explore all options to secure a sustainable future for the site”.

Mr Alexander said: “He confirmed the Scottish Government and enterprise agencies stand ready to provide support for the plant and its workforce and the council will play a major part in that.

“I hope within a week to have a clearer idea of the way forward.”