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Business secretary to try to persuade makers of Colman's Mustard to stay in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 21:27 20 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:17 21 November 2017

The future is uncertain for workers at Britvic and Unilever in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

The future is uncertain for workers at Britvic and Unilever in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

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Business secretary Greg Clark has pledged to contact bosses at the company which produces Colman's Mustard - to try to persuade them to remain in Norfolk.

Greg Clark, business secretary. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA Images.Greg Clark, business secretary. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA Images.

The commitment came after a team from the region’s local enterprise partnership met the government minister to discuss how they can encourage Britvic and Unilever to retain production and jobs in Norwich.

Britvic announced last month that it planned to close its factory at Carrow Works in Norwich and move production to other facilities in the UK.

On the same day, Unilever, which makes Colman’s Mustard at the same site, announced it was reviewing its own future.

At tonight’s meeting, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) presented a number of potential proposals for the factories’ futures, put together with Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council, to Mr Clark. The options are not being revealed publicly.

Chloe Smith outside the Britvic and Unilever factory site. Photo: Chloe SmithChloe Smith outside the Britvic and Unilever factory site. Photo: Chloe Smith

The LEP’s chairman Doug Field joined his chief executive Chris Starkie at the meeting, organised by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and also attended by Norwich South MP Clive Lewis.

Mr Field said: “The Secretary of State was very aware of the importance and heritage of these companies to Norwich and the wider area.

“He has agreed to support our efforts in trying to maintain production in the local area and to support staff in this uncertain time.

“We will continue to talk to both companies ahead of the end of their consultation exercises and work with all our partners to support the interests of workers and of our economy.”

As well as his pledge to speak to Unilever bosses, Mr Clark will contact Britvic to ensure their consultation is being undertaken in a transparent way and all necessary information was being provided to the works council.

Ms Smith said: “I think we presented a compelling case. We really impressed on Mr Clark that this is an important part of Norwich’s industrial heritage, but also of its industrial future.”

A petition set up by this newspaper to keep the factories open has been signed by more than 11,000 people.

On Saturday, this newspaper challenged the business secretary to explain how he was working to retain highly-skilled jobs across the county.

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