Posted: Wed 8th Jun 2016

EU Referendum – Deeside business ‘big hitters’ firmly in the remain camp.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2016


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There is no mistaking the importance of the forthcoming EU referendum, in just 15 days people of Deeside and the rest of the UK will go to the polls to cast one of the most important votes in a lifetime.

We are being be asked one ‘simple’ question:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

Gauging the ‘noise’ (or lack of) locally on social media sites such as Twitter, which became a fairly good barometer of public opinion around Deeside politics during recent elections, the debate hasn’t quite caught fire as yet.

Perhaps due in part to both in and out campaigns enjoying a degree of cross party, UKIP aside, support, the debate appears less tribal around these parts.

In the run up to the 2015 general election, UKIP’s heavy presence in Deeside with the opening of their election campaign shop in Shotton and noisy support on social media started to ruffle a few feathers.

The party’s manifesto certainly appeared to be the hotter topic on social media than their counterparts efforts.

A couple of core themes rose to the top locally in heated exchanges online and debates offline, those being immigration and the affect withdrawal from the EU would have on Deeside in terms of economy and industry.

UKIP’s default position on wanting Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming here to work chimes with a sizable and growing chunk of the Deeside demographic.

Gloves came off as both Labour and UKIP activists hit the streets of Deeside making claim and counterclaim around what affect withdrawal from the EU would have on the region’s industrial big hitters such as Airbus and Toyota.

Would they go if we left the EU? It was certainly ‘noise’ being put out there by some, strategically!

But, one simply doesn’t just ‘up sticks’ and move a manufacturing base responsible for kitting out over half the world’s passenger jets with wings to another country, in the case of Airbus.

Deeside ‘big hitters’ clear on position.

Since the 2015 General Election Airbus and Toyota have come out with unambiguous statements over their collective desire to see the UK remain part of the EU, stating economic factors over politics and the possible loss of a competitive edge versus other countries in Europe.

It’s a view shared by many business leaders in the region who want to see the UK remain part of the EU.

Comtek are another ‘big hitter’ in Deeside, they describe themselves as a “Pan-European provider of repairs, spares and support to the Telecoms industry.”

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Headed up by CEO Askar Sheibani, the company employs around 200 people at offices and services centres in Deeside Industrial Estate, Northern Ireland, Holland and Germany.

Mr Sheibani, also Chairman of the Deeside Industrial Park Business Forum, says withdrawal from the EU would not necessarily hit the wider Comtek group, but he feels the UK side of the operation will stall and even start to ‘shrink’ if we were exit Europe.

Many of the Comtek’s customers are based in EU member countries, Sheibani senses a nervousness amongst those wanting to sign new contracts largely due to the uncertainty around what the future may hold post referendum.

BBC Interview

Speaking to BBC Radio last week Askar Sheibani told the Good Morning Wales programme why he and his company are firmly in the ‘Remain’ camp.

“For the Comtek Group there would be no difference (if the UK left the EU), the problem is the UK business, it will not grow, in fact it will shrink.” Said Askar.

Recently Comtek successfully tendered for a contract from a spanish telecom provider €1.5million.

The Spanish company insisted the bid had to come from the company’s Dutch office, rather than the UK office because they had concerns about what lies ahead should the UK exit the EU following a ‘vote leave’ win in the June 23 referendum.

“We may come out of EU and as a result there would be far more bureaucracy for the goods to go from UK to Spain they don’t want that.” said Sheibani.

One of the greatest challenges for Comtek is around recruitment, the company needs highly skilled software engineers.

There is a well documented skills shortage in the digital sector in Wales and the wider UK, Comtek finds it difficult to recruit the highly skilled people it needs here in Deeside.

“I need highly skilled people specifically in software engineering, i have tried to find someone in UK and have looked all over Europe” says Sheibani.

“It has been difficult, i eventually found an engineer from India, it took a year to go through all the immigration papers spending a lot of money in the process of bringing the individual to the UK from India.”

Fortunately for Comtek the company found another software engineer this time from Italy, it took just four weeks for him to give notice to his employer and to come to the UK and start work with the company’s R&D team

Clearly for Comtek and their CEO remaining in Europe is important for the companies growth plans, from sales to ease of recruitment and employing workers from EU countries..

For others in Deeside the story may be very different, what’s your view? get in touch at [email protected] and share your thoughts about the upcoming EU referendum.

The Deeside Business Forum (DBF) has organised a business conference on the EU Referendum this Friday 10th June, at Coleg Cambria’s Deeside Campus for more information email [email protected] or click here 

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