'A real kick in the teeth to the city of Norwich' - MPs react to Britvic factory closure

PUBLISHED: 17:21 15 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:24 16 December 2017

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has called Britvic's decision 'a kick in the teeth'. Picture: PA.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has called Britvic's decision 'a kick in the teeth'. Picture: PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Norwich's MPs have offered their sympathy to workers affected by Britvic's decision to close its Norwich factory, and pledged to continue the fight to keep Colman's in the city.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. Photo: Steve AdamsNorwich North MP Chloe Smith. Photo: Steve Adams

Britvic confirmed the news that its 249-strong workforce had feared this afternoon when it announced that it would press ahead with the decision to close its Carrow Works site.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “It is very difficult news, although it may not have been entirely unexpected. Nobody likes bad news at any time of the year, but to hear this now just before Christmas will make it worse for employees.

“It’s important to remember that all the legal process have been followed and it’s now crucial that the employees get all the necessary support needed including looking for future opportunities.

“Attention will obviously turn to Unilever now and what they will do. I have been lobbying hard for them to stay but have not had any indication of what move they will make at this point.”

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis called Britvic’s decision a “real kick in the teeth to the city of Norwich”.

He said: “I’m gutted for the workforce. I think they will have felt that Britvic went into this process knowing full well which way it was going with this.

“It’s a real body blow for staff who have worked so hard and they have every right to feel hard done by.

“It’s an awful time of year for this to happen and they have to go back to their families knowing the company is leaving.

“There are of course knock-on effects for Colman’s too, which remain to be seen. This city and generations of families have contributed to making the brand what it is.

“It’s ruthless and a real kick in the teeth to the city of Norwich and the workers.”

Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “While disappointed at Britvic’s decision, our efforts now turn to supporting their workers into alternative employment and to offer support and advice to supply chain companies in the local area.

“This work includes matching up expanding businesses with workers and suppliers with specific skills and expertise.

“Unilever’s review of production at the Carrow site it shares with Britvic is due to conclude in the New Year. The LEP and its partners continue to work closely with the company to explore every option to keep the Colman’s brand and the jobs its production supports within Norfolk.”

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