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Coryton an industrial ghost town as last-remaining staff leave plant
AS RECENTLY as nine months ago, Coryton was a bustling oil refinery. Now it is nothing more than an industrial ghost town.
Only a handful of workers remain at the eerily quiet site, off The Manorway in Stanford-Le-Hope and on Friday Petroplus staff left for good after completing the final stages of a three-month winding-down process.
One of the very last employers to leave the site, Jon Barden, the Coryton general manager, spoke of a mixture of feelings before leaving the plant for the final time.
He said he was “proud” of his workforce who have remained professional throughout an extremely difficult time but said he was “disappointed” that a different outcome wasn’t reached.
Petroplus, the Swiss-based parent company of Coryton went bust in January.
A deal was reached to keep Coryton supplied with oil until May, while administrators PricewaterhouseCooper sought a buyer for the stricken refiney.
More than 800 jobs have been lost though after that search ended with PwC agreeing a deal to turn the refinery into an import terminal.
Mr Barden, 50, from Shefieldm, said: “Everyone has worked together throughout this process. We’re all human beings and human beings can always do things better.
“Everyone who has been involved in this process has put 100 per cent in to get the best possible outcome.
“Obviously we wanted to keep Coryton as a refinery and we’re disappointed that didn’t happen.
“In life, as hard as you work, sometimes you don’t get the outcome you want.”
Mr Barden said that the redundancy programme had been well managed and that some workers had managed to find new employ through a local jobs fair.
The sheer scale of the workforce meant the redundancy process started in June and only ended on Friday.
Mr Barden said: “As we’ve gone through the downsizing process, we’ve given those who have found new employment the chance to leave, allowing us to manage the number of redundancies at every stage.”
The loss of Coryton is a significant blow to the community, but Jon said he is proud of the work that Petroplus did in the area.
He said: “Coryton has played an important role in the community throughout. We’re proud of that and I think we’ll be missed.”
Jon will look back fondly over his five years at Coryton. Having worked all over the world and for BP for 16 years, managing at Coryton was like a homecoming.
He added: “My career isn’t over but it’s the part of my career that i’ll look back on with the most pride. I feel strongly about the improvements we made to the site.
“I would like to thank staff for their professionalism and for supporting their colleagues.
“My parting emotion is one of gratitude and appreciation and I wish all staff the very best for the future.”