A city councillor has demanded urgent answers over claims a late bid could be lodged to revive the historic Stoneywood paper mill in Aberdeen.
Opposition Labour group leader Barney Crockett said an offer that would save jobs at the site would be “welcome”.
But he believed workers are “deeply sceptical” about reports that a viable bid could be made at the 11th hour.
Mr Crockett, a former lord provost, spoke out after local SNP MSP Jackie Dunbar revealed to The P&J on Sunday that she believed at least one “credible” offer was likely to be made to keep it as a paper mill.
Stoneywood Mill went into administration last year
More than 300 workers lost their jobs after the mill, which dates back to 1770, was put into administration in September last year.
The administrators, Interpath Advisory, said “severe challenges posed by the pandemic”, along with “skyrocketing energy costs”, had been overwhelming for mill owners, Arjowiggins.
We revealed in November that an offer to take over the mill had been made by Glasgow-based Bell & Bain, one of the UK’s largest and oldest independent book printers and binders.
However, it was rejected, with one insider insisting at the time that no “credible” offers had been made.
I understand there will be at least one credible bidder that aims to retain the site as a functioning paper mill. This bid must be taken seriously and give the community a fighting chance to grow the jobs on the site once again. https://t.co/Z9vUrd3F1w
— Jackie Dunbar MSP (@JackieDunbarSNP) February 12, 2023
The administrators have set a deadline for offers to be made for the mill by Tuesday next week.
Mr Crockett, one of the local councillors for the area, said: “Why would any serious bidders wait until over 320 workers at Stoneywood Mill have been made redundant?
“Why would any serious bidders have kept quiet about their interest until the mill has been in administration for months?
“Why would they not talk to the trade union, the workforce, the local councillors, the local community or the community council?
“Mill workers are bound to be very concerned about this so-called late bid.
“Any attempt to strip the mill’s assets and get hold of the land on the cheap should be seen as what it is, and not dressed up as a rescue bid if it is not.”
Mr Crockett added: “I call on any local elected representative who is privy to secret information about the future of Stoneywood Mill to come clean, and tell the workforce and the local community what is really going on as a matter of urgency, before raising any more false hopes for my constituents who have lost their jobs.”
A spokeswoman for the administrators said they had “always remained open to offers” from those wishing to acquire the Stoneywood Mill site as an operational facility.
She added: “An updated deadline for offers of 21 February 2023 has been set in order to let the joint administrators establish if there are any credible offers (in terms of value and ability to execute) and to give potential interested parties clarity around format and timing of bids.”
Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “We would expect that the administrators, Interpath, would give full consideration to any credible bid aimed at keeping the site at Stoneywood as a going concern.
“Scottish Enterprise is in regular contact with the administrators and is continuing to work with them to help find a sustainable future for the site.
“The Scottish Government has provided support for all affected employees through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment.”