Redundancies strike at village service station

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staff at a village service station have been made redundant after the owners of became insolvent.

Due to a downturn in trade the owners of Norton petrol station, shop and motor centre, Sabaratnam Gnanendrun and his wife have been forced to make savings by taking over the running of the site themselves and making all of their staff redundant.

They have entered into a formal insolvency procedure, known as an individual voluntary arrangement, and last week their staff received letters notifying them that they were redundant, with immediate effect.

Eleven staff are entitled to redundancy payouts, having worked at the site from three to 25 years.

Rhiannon Newport, 15, from Tostock, is also feeling the effects of the Gnanendrun’s cutbacks. Miss Newport and her siblings have been delivering newspapers in Tostock for eight years, but last week she was among those made unemployed.

Phil Stone, from Insolvency Consultancy, said that Mr and Mrs Gnanendrun had suffered a ‘stupendous loss last year’.

He said: “It has not been a successful business venture for them. The petrol sales make virtually no money at all, you make the money in the shop.

“But they didn’t manage to get the post office franchised, so, straight away they lost a vital part of local village life.

“The loss of the post office had a knock on effect on the shop sales. There was a very high level of staffing as well.”

Andrew Burt managed the site’s motor centre until he was made redundant last week. Rather than face unemployment he has taken over the lease on the workshop and tyre centre. Customers can now make the most of his flexible working hours and reduced hourly rate.

He said: “I would like to see things move on from here.

“It had to happen when it happened or else they would have lost everything – if they’d gone bankrupt we’d have lost the petrol, the shop and the garage from the village.

“If people support the village shop and tell them what they want it can be successful. They’re trying to make arrangements to reinstall the papers.”

Mr Gnanendrun said: “Things have been really tough for us this past year. We have fallen victim to continual price increases from suppliers and the current climate. We really value the local support and are trying to look at ways to continue to provide for the local community.

“We’re upset by the tough decisions we’ve had to make, which left us with very few options to keep the garage open for the village.”