THE MINISTER for cities travelled from London to Cam to see the good work a small paper manufacturing business is doing.
Treasury minister MP Greg Clark took the long journey after being asked by Stroud MP Neil Carmichael if he would help promote successful manufacturing firms in the area.
Both MPs took the 40-minute tour of Sundeala at Middle Mill, which produces hardboard from used paper and from this material it makes everything from whiteboards, temporary floor protection to shotgun shells.
It produces around 12 tonnes of board a day by turning the paper into pulp, using water sourced from River Cam, and then dries it out to make the boards.
The company moved to the area in 2001 and has enjoyed steady profit increases over the last few years, with a current turnover of £5.3m.
It has also employed new staff every year for several years now and currently has 60 people on its payroll.
Mr Clark, an MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells, said places like Sundeala underlined the importance of manufacturing to rural areas.
“They are building on the industrial strengths here and are making use of these skills and the traditions but supplying to a very modern market,” he said.
“I usually deal with cities but what Neil says is it is small town manufacturing that is absolutely vital for the national economy.”
The Gazette asked the two Conservative politicians whether a ministerial visit would have been best used at Dursley firm Lister Petter, which is currently in administration and requires a buyer to save it before around 100 jobs are lost.
Mr Carmichael’s response was that Lister Petter was a complicated issue and with the challenges they have got they are thinking of other issues at this time but has been in talks about supporting the future of the firm.
Mr Clark replied by saying: “One of the reasons I was keen on coming here today was so people can extrapolate from the difficulties of one firm and see others that are not in decline and which are not just present but employing people and expanding.”
Sundeala sales director Martin Allen said it was a good visit for the company.
“It is nice to get recognition from the powers that be that we are reasonably successful,” he said.
“When the wheels came off in 2008, during the downturn of the economy, we managed to keep our heads above water and now we are starting to see the work come through.”
He added that the company had suffered when the coalition government was elected in 2010 as it cut the Building Schools for the Future scheme, which planned to build several hundred schools in the country, resulting in a large loss of business for the firm.