Thriving new Exeter collective officially opened by John Hart

John Hart visits the Devon Disability Collective

Posted on: 28 October 2015

An Exeter business which provides specialist employment for people with disabilities has been officially opened by Devon County Council leader John Hart who said he was pleased to see the workers all flourishing.

The Devon Disability Collective (DDC) was set up after PLUSS announced the impending closure of its factory at Marsh Barton.

Devon County Council owns the building and agreed to waive the £150,000 rent for the first year and loan the collective £125,000 over five years to help its set-up costs and cash flow.

Mr Hart worked with Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw and Devon County Council Labour leader Richard Westlake to assist the staff to take over the business and set themselves up as a collective.

Now the business is thriving and jobs have been saved at the Exeter factory.

Mr Hart and Cabinet member for economy and Exeter, Andrew Leadbetter, toured the factory on Wednesday and met all the staff.  Mr Hart then unveiled a plaque and officially opened the site.

Established 45 years ago, the factory manufactures wheelchair products for the NHS, provides light-engineering services for customers such as BT as well as operating re-upholstery services for home, business and the marine and auto-motive industries.

DDC openingMr Hart told the workers: “When you were threatened with closure and the risk of losing your jobs, I believed you should have the opportunity to flourish.

“You have seized that opportunity and I am now delighted to see that – less than six months later – you are making a real success of the business.

The Devon Disability Collective’s chief executive, Michael Crompton-Holgate,
said: “The business is going from strength to strength which has contributed to a vastly increased product and service offering over the last four months it has been operating.

“The Devon County Council loan will help us grow as planned.

“I want to thank John Hart and his team for all their support. Everyone has been remarkably helpful and supportive in getting us off the ground.”

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