MINISTERS are looking at a new publicly funded rescue bid for the closure-threatened McVitie's biscuit factory in Glasgow which has already received nearly £1m in taxpayer funds till three years ago.

Union sources, who have been in discussions with the Scottish Government including business minister Jamie Hepburn over the decision to shut the Tollcross plant with the loss of 500 jobs claim there is support for more public funding.

It comes as a campaign was launched to help save the 500 at-risk jobs at the Tollcross plant which makes Hobnobs.

The Herald can reveal the owners of the factory made plans to shut it just three years after drawing the last tranche of nearly £1m in public money - part of which helped develop their Nibbles biscuits.

Scottish Enterprise approved over £1,011,000 in grant funding to McVitie's Turkish-owned factory owners Pladis - with just over £895,085 being used.

Part of that included £193,000 taxpayer support approved by Scottish Enterprise to develop their Nibbles product in a £2.4m project to bring the brand to Tollcross from Turkey, the Herald can reveal.

The rest of the fund was orginally approved in 2014 to allow for the upskilling of staff at Tollcross. Scottish Enterprise say it resulted in 485 jobs being safeguarded.

Documents reveal that Pladis continued to draw down money till January, 2018.

United Biscuits (UK) Limited, which is trading as Pladis, made a £63m pre-tax profit in 2019 - £5m more than the previous year.

HeraldScotland:

The union GMB Scotland has said that David Murray, Pladis UK and Ireland managing director has "questions to answer" over public funding and why the site was not modernised.

Four years ago the union raised fears for the factory's future and sought reassurances from managers over the factory.

The union raised worries Pladis was not committed long-term having been silent over the future of modernisation investment at the Tollcross site. Pladis had said it had invested more than £5m in the previous few years.

GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said: “The workforce has done everything that’s been asked of them over the last five years to help this company maximise production and profit, the Tollcross site tops the company’s performance indicators in UK and Ireland.

“Our members want to know how £1 million worth of Scottish Enterprise support has been spent, what other public funding streams the company has accessed, and why have profitable products been moved from Tollcross to Eastern Europe and sister sites across the rest of the UK?

“It’s not support through a consultation process this workforce needs from it’s employer, it’s transparency on every aspect of why Pladis looks set to cut and run from Scotland, and until we get that there will be suspicion over the company’s motives."

Generations of families have worked at the Glasgow biscuit works which first opened in 1925 as part of the Macfarlane and Lang's Victoria Biscuit Works.

The McVitie’s presence in Scotland goes back to the original Scottish biscuit maker, McVitie & Price Ltd, which was established in 1830 in Edinburgh.

And the union Unite Scotland said it was pushing for more public funding support to save the factory.

READ MORE: McVitie's biscuit factory in Tollcross at threat of closure as campaign launched

Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, said: "The fact that Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government have supported the McVitie's factory at Tollcross in the past through around £1m in grants to keep jobs in Scotland re-emphasises the need to work together in order to explore every avenue possible to retain jobs including through further public support.

"Following talks with Government ministers we believe there is a strong willingness to do this and the next step is for us to positively engage with McVitie's to find solutions which can save jobs. Closure simply isn't an option here so Unite will be working tirelessly with all the relevant parties to ensure the factory stays open."

Pladis said: "We received a grant from Scottish Enterprise for training and upskilling over five years ago. We can confirm all conditions of that award have been met."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are concerned to learn that Pladis UK is entering into consultation with its workforce over the potential closure of its Tollcross site. This is a huge blow to the company’s staff, their families and the local area who will be affected by this decision.

“The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise has offered support and Ministers have spoken to Glasgow City Council to discuss our partnership approach going forward.

“Scottish Enterprise has been working with Pladis UK and will continue to engage with the company throughout its consultation period to explore all possible options to support the business and its workforce.

“We greatly value the Food and Drink industry in Scotland so this is a matter of concern both locally and nationally. Our priority will be to work in partnership with the company, the unions and the local authority to provide every support possible to help ensure a productive future for the Tollcross site and its workforce.

“Should job losses happen, we will provide support to all affected employees through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).”