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Cloburn Quarry bemoans tough trading conditions

Cloburn Quarry, the company which helps bankroll the right-wing New Party via its millionaire political activist chairman, dramatically decreased the amount of its political donations in a year that also saw pre-tax profits decline.

Cloburn Quarry, the company which helps bankroll the right-wing New Party via its millionaire political activist chairman, dramatically decreased the amount of its political donations in a year that also saw pre-tax profits decline.

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Robert Durward, the chairman of the New Party and the owner of Lanarkshire-based Cloburn, last year pumped almost £135,000 into the party he founded, well down from the £293,000 he donated the year before.

Durward said his company's political donations were lower on the year because the New Party had not put up a candidate at the last elections.

"We didn't compete last time, because I didn't think we were strong enough," he said. "I felt we would have had no effect. This country is in limbo. No-one seems to care. As long as people have enough food, and enough fuel for their cars and enough money take their holidays, they don't want to know."

Asked if he planned to keep his political party going, he said: "We will keep going, but for the moment it will be low-key."

Durward was the moving force behind the Scottish People's Alliance, which stood with two former Tory MSPs at the 2004 Holyrood election and spent £490,000 of his money, yet did not fare well.

That party has since been renamed the New Party of Britain, which describes its politics as "centre-right".

Durward said: "We certainly have more right-wing policies than left-wing policies."

After deducting the political donation, pre-tax profits at Durward's Cloburn - which quarries for granite and exports to overseas markets including Japan, the US, Holland and Germany - declined to £3.8m for the year to the end of September 2006, compared with nearly £4m the year before.

Turnover at the quarry business, which operates between Biggar and Lanark and employs 36 workers, climbed to £8.2m for the year, compared with £7.9m last time.

Durward said: "Conditions are extremely tough for a small family business like ourselves.

"We are being hit particularly hard by the work-time directive, which was introduced by the European Parliament, and that means we are paying a lot more for road haulage.

"We are so dependent on trucks to transport our granite to Leith Docks, and it's getting tougher all the time."

Cloburn's latest set of accounts, obtained by The Herald from Companies House, reveal that the firm's directors took home a combined pay package worth £76,000 last year, flat on the previous year.

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