Northampton

Firm 'should repay public money' over TV factory jobs

A Taiwanese company which promised to create up to 500 jobs at a TV assembly plant in Corby has been asked to repay £416,000 of public money.

Kenmark International Limited was employing just 10 people in April 2011, according to the East Midlands Development Agency.

The EMDA said: "As they are in breach of the terms and conditions of the grant, they are liable to repay the money to us."

Kenmark has not yet commented.

'Big disappointment'

The grant was given in 2009 by the EMDA to support the firm's investment in the UK.

A condition was that 100 jobs should be created at the Corby TV assembly plant within a year and 300-500 jobs after three years.

A statement from the EMDA said: "As with all EMDA grants, this was subject to a number of terms and conditions, including minimum levels of employment that the business needed to achieve.

"Between September 2009 and May 2010, up to 80 people were employed, but a subsequent downturn in the market led to production being suspended at Corby, with an associated reduction in staff.

"We have been working very closely with Kenmark to try and find a way in which production could recommence in Corby."

When Kenmark announced its plans for the town in October 2009, the EMDA described it as the biggest foreign investment in the East Midlands since the 1990s when Toyota opened a base in Derby and Capital One in Nottingham.

Corby Borough Council's chief executive Chris Mallender said the loss of jobs to the town was a "big disappointment".

Mr Mallender told the BBC that he was sceptical about Kenmark's intentions when it first arrived.

"We never felt that the Taiwanese company were sufficiently committed," he said.

Mr Mallender added that Kenmark had been given a "soft deal" which included free premises.

Mr Mallender also believes the grant will not be repaid, saying: "I think this will probably be written off."

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