STAFF at a catering firm at Hartlepool’s top tourist attraction are facing redundancy as its lease hangs in the balance.
Six workers for private firm Historic Quay Catering, based at Hartlepool Maritime Experience, have been handed their notice.
Historic Quay Catering is a subsidiary of Cleveland Caterers and provides catering for functions at the quay such as weddings and business conferences.
The company says the threat of redundancies is down to uncertainty over the future of their lease as attraction owners Hartlepool Borough Council consider all catering provision on the site.
It is part of a wider council feasibility study on the whole site to explore options for generating income and savings.
Stephen Connolly, proprietor of Cleveland Catering, said: “We are looking at restructuring the company depending on the outcome of negotiations with the lease.
“It is not a foregone conclusion, but we are making back up plans and putting things in place to protect ourselves.
“Staff have been given notice pending the review of the lease.
“If there is a satisfactory outcome, the staff will be re-employed.”
Mr Connolly added: “It is a worrying and disturbing time. It is people’s lives we are dealing with and it is not something we do lightly.”
He stressed Cleveland Caterers would continue to operate as it has done, and it is only Historic Quay Catering that is affected.
A council spokesman said: “The renewal of the lease for catering provision within Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, including the coffee shop, has been considered by the council at a recent meeting.
“This was deferred as councillors requested that officers carry out a full review of the future management of the Hartlepool Maritime Experience and bring a further report with options back to the committee.
“This piece of work is ongoing and it’s expected that the report will be considered at the end of this year.
“A further report specifically about catering will be going back to committee in the near future.
“In the meantime the council agreed to extend the existing lease with Cleveland Caterers until such time that the review of the site is considered.
“We continue to keep Cleveland Caterers abreast of developments, and will continue to do so.
“The issue of staff notices is a private matter for the contractor concerned.”