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Nearly 200 Aylesford Newsprint workers met at Cobdown Sports and Social Club for a support meeting to help them find new jobs after the firm closed

Nearly 200 workers who lost their jobs in the shock decision to close Aylesford Newsprint met last night at a support meeting.

They heard from representatives of six agencies including Manpower, Connect2Staff, Earl Street Employment, Bayside Recruitment, Jobcentre Plus and National Careers Service.

Former staff members were given a list of local employers who had contacted Aylesford Newsprint with potential vacancies.

Aylesford Newsprint has closed costing 233 jobs so far
Aylesford Newsprint has closed costing 233 jobs so far

On Tuesday administrators KPMG confirmed that 233 employees had been made redundant at the site, in New Hythe Business Park, with immediate effect.

It came just a day after bosses announced that the firm would be going into administration.

Speaking at the support meeting, held at Cobdown Sports and Social Club, a spokesman for Aylesford Newsprint said: "Today is about supporting our employees and help them to claim benefits and start their job search.

"It came as a big shock for everyone. We want to pick everyone up and place them in the best possible position for the future.

Cobdown Sports and Social Club
Cobdown Sports and Social Club

"We have had some great support from local people from employment agencies and the job centre and careers service and other local employers.

"We are a family here and everyone is supporting each other. The mood is sad but still friendly."

The firm is keen to find new placements for 14 apprentices, some of which are halfway through their course.

Some of the older workers there had been employed at the mill since leaving school.

Redundant worker Ryan Pickett
Redundant worker Ryan Pickett

Ryan Pickett, 48, had worked at the newsprint factory for six years. Speaking after the meeting he said: "I came from Dartford mill so I have been through this before. That mill closed, now this mill has closed, I'll just have to try and find another one.

"We haven't had any more answers about the company and what went on and I don't think we will ever know what really went on.

"It wasn't too bad today, I think everyone has got over the initial shock but most of the advice we got I already knew."

A further 65 staff will be retained to assist administrators KPMG with the sale of assets and the decommissioning of the plant.

The production facility has now closed.

Dean Cowan and Christopher Shade who lost their jobs at the factory
Dean Cowan and Christopher Shade who lost their jobs at the factory

Christopher Shade and his brother Kevin, who had worked at the paper maker for 32 years between them, have both lost their jobs.

The 47-year-old from East Malling, who worked as a reel run operator, told the Kent Messenger: “I think it is diabolical they have gone about it in the way they have.
“It is the best job I have ever had and now it is gone.

“It is such an awful feeling, such a kick in the teeth. Nobody cares, you are losing your job without any thanks, no notice and no pay for the next month.

“I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent or my bills.”

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