70 jobs under threat at Cornwall's Eden Project
One in seven staff at Cornwall's flagship tourist attraction the Eden Project could be made redundant, it emerged last night.
For the second time in 12 months, staff at the environmental attraction, near St Austell, were yesterday told that their jobs may be at risk as it looked to cut costs by £2 million a year.
The Eden Project, which currently has 445 full-time equivalent posts, confirmed up to 70 jobs could be lost as it looked to make major savings across "all areas of its operation".
It said far fewer visitors had come to Cornwall in 2012 due to a "combination of the Olympics, poor summer and autumn weather and the lasting effects of the recession".
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Coupled with "enormous pressure on income in the charity sector" and difficulties in fundraising, the charity said it needed to "make substantial cuts to the cost base".
Eden also said that six months of developing a partnership in China to build a version of the project there had taken resources, as there has been no ready access to new funds to support the initiative. However, it is hoping to go to full contract on the scheme over the next six weeks after signing a deal with the Chinese government and other agencies.
In a letter to staff, Sir Tim Smit, Eden's chief executive for development, said of the pending job losses: "No sugar-coated pill will ease the anguish for those affected, all we can say to those of you who will be leaving is thank you so much for all you have given Eden and we hope you will depart feeling a great deal of pride in all you have achieved in creating a very special place, for now and for the future."
In February last year, the Eden Project confirmed it was to make up to 35 staff redundant after posting a loss of almost £2 million in 2010-2011.
The tourist attraction is run by the Eden Trust charity. Accounts posted on the Charity Commission for England and Wales' website showed it recorded a small surplus of £136,052 in 2011-12.
The previous year it lost £1,778,374 with its income of £31,849,974 lower than its outgoings of £33,628,321.
The trust's net debt in March 2012 stood at £5.3 million compared with £7.7 million in March 2011.
Research for Eden Project's tenth anniversary in 2011 showed it has hosted 12.8 million visitors since it opened and generated £1.1 billion for the regional economy.
While visitor numbers for 2012 are not yet known, totals have been falling.
The visitor head count rose slightly in 2011, having seen a little over one million visitors in 2010, although they were 2.7% down on 2009.
In turn, the 2009 total was 6% lower than the attraction had enjoyed in 2008.