David Lidington column: We need more big firms like Arla coming to the Vale

David Lidington MP
David Lidington MP

Arla’s new mega-dairy, just off the Aston Clinton bypass, has been controversial.

Residents close by have seen the rural character of their neighbourhood diminished.

There’s also been an impact on traffic on the A41 (and in my view the case for an Aylesbury bypass is stronger than ever).

But, as I saw when I went to the official opening of the dairy last week, there have also been big gains for our area.

Arla has created 700 new local jobs and supports 90 apprenticeships.

I got the chance to talk to a number of staff while I was at the dairy and asked them what it was like.

Everyone said that conditions were good and they were happy working there.

Now obviously I didn’t get to talk to every employee and I suspect that there’s no workplace on the planet that’s entirely problem-free, but the impression I got from staff last week was definitely positive.

There’s also been a spin-off gain for other businesses in the town.

Enercon Industries, a small firm in Rabans Lane, designs and makes seals for plastic bottles.

They won a contract to supply Arla – and have been able to take on more workers as a result.

For Aylesbury to remain a vibrant community and not just a dormitory town, we need to encourage more employment locally.

In particular, Aylesbury could do with more big-name employers offering skilled jobs to local people.

One well-known name coming here should encourage others.

I see Arla’s decision to come here as a major vote of confidence in the town as a business location.

Arla is a farmers’ cooperative and I also met some of the 2,800 British dairy farmers (of 12,600 around Europe) who are co-owners of the business.

About 900 dairy farms, including some from the Vale, will send milk to be processed in Aylesbury, and the dairy will use only UK produced milk.

The farmers I met told me that having an ultra-modern, efficient dairy (the biggest fresh milk dairy anywhere in the world) gave them confidence for the future of their own businesses too.