A COMPANY is axing 17 jobs – almost 15 per cent of the workforce – at its plant in Cross Hills.

Airedale Chemical, based in Skipton Road, is cutting its current 120-strong workforce as part of a restructuring move.

The family company was founded in 1973 by the late Brian Chadwick.

In 1992 the Cross Hills site was purchased and Airedale Chemical became a split service chemical distributor and manufacturer.

The move from its former Cottingley base was aimed at accommodating growing demand from its textiles customers, to whom it supplied dyes as well as an expanding portfolio of industrial chemicals.

The firm celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013 and a year later recorded a turnover of more than £40 million.

It supplies industries including food and drink, manufacturing, brewing, agriculture, dairy and water treatment.

Uniquely, the company owns and operates its own chemical transportation fleet.

Its accredited manufacturing plant facilitates operations such as mixing, blending, chemical reaction and product development.

In September last year, the firm announced plans to take on the next generation of scientists as part of a Government apprenticeship scheme, but is now streamlining its current staff.

Chris Chadwick, Airedale Chemical’s managing director, said: “Airedale Chemical is currently carrying out a restructure to refocus on the company’s core services.

“Unfortunately, this means that redundancies are being made throughout the company.

“This decision has not been made lightly and the company deeply regrets having to lose members of its team.

“We are supporting those employees affected as much as possible and will continue to service all customers as normal with no disruption to day to day activity.”

One member of staff who is losing their job said: “This has come as a bit of a shock.

“We didn’t know it was that bad at work.”

The company has always placed strong emphasis on its community support.

Last year it donated lifesaving public defibrillators to Farnhill and to Glusburn and Cross Hills Parish Council, which sited its machine at the institute building in Colne Road.

The donations were made through the company's charitable arm, the Airedale Foundation.

As part of its community commitment, the firm also gave Cross Hills' public loos an industrial-strength clean and agreed to return to the Main Street block every six months to repeat the free treatment.

Plus it launched a partnership with Sutton Community Primary School.

Pupils had their science lessons brought to life with a visit to the company's base, where they took part in experiments.

And laboratory technician Madeleine Lofthouse visited year-four youngsters in the classroom.

The link-up was part of celebrations marking Airedale Chemical’s 25 years in the village.