SEVENTEEN jobs are to be shed at a Wharfedale paper company.

Weidmann Whiteley at Pool Paper Mills, Pool-in-Wharfedale, broke the news to employees last week.

The business, part of the Swiss-owned Wicor group, is making the redundancies in its components workshop due to what it described as a very competitive market.

Operations Director Bill Wallace said: "The situation has been for an extensive period of time that we have been in a loss-making situation with regards one portion of the business, specifically the components shop.

"We have been dependent on a key account for our business but despite all of our best efforts we have not been able to provide profitable supply lines.

"The fact is we can't compete with imports from Turkey and other low-cost manufacturing companies so, very recently, a decision was taken by our owners in Switzerland to close the components shop.

"We will be making 17 posts within the business redundant in due course in a rollout that will go through to the end of July, and we are talking to our people on an individual and on a group basis."

He added that there may be a possibility of some of those facing redundancy being offered alternative positions within the firm should voluntary redundancy options be taken up by other employees.

A source close to the workforce, who asked not to be named, said no-one had seen the move coming and that staff were shocked.

They told us: "It's come completely out of the blue - the people who work there have never been given any indication that the components shop was going to close.

"There are skilled people there who have been working for the business a long, long time and for them to be cast aside for no good reason is ridiculous."

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) said: "The situation is very serious and nobody wants to see people lose their jobs.

"I have approached the company for an urgent meeting and offered my support on some of the underlying issues, and will of course do everything I can to ensure that those affected and their families are supported."

Councillor Barry Anderson (Con, Adel & Wharfedale), meanwhile, said his thoughts went out to all of the employees affected.

Weidmann Whiteley is still waiting to see if a planning application to create nine houses and new sporting facilities, which was approved in principle under defer and delegate powers last year, will proceed.

The company has said that money raised from the development would be invested into the business to help safeguard its future.