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We need to act fast to ensure Colman's Mustard closure is not the precursor for worse to come

PUBLISHED: 17:48 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:48 05 January 2018

Colman's Mustard made by Unilever.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Colman's Mustard made by Unilever. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

I’m fearing the worst.

I don’t want my first column of 2018 to be negative, but it’s hard to talk about anything else other than Thursday’s confirmation of the Colman’s factory closure.

And my concerns this is the start of a trend that could become commonplace in Norwich and Norfolk - unless we do something about it.

Let’s be honest, once the desire to leave was stated by Colman’s, the writing was pretty much on the wall.

However, despite this, we at the Evening News and EDP felt we had to do all we could to try and convince both Unilever, Colman’s owners, and Britvic, who they share the Carrow site with, to change their plans.

The reaction to that campaign from the public was staggering and a surefire sign of the importance people in this area place not only on the jobs both firms hold, but their long-term association with the city.

That makes these decisions all the more sadder.

Alas, that campaign and the efforts of business leaders, MPs and trade unions was to no avail. And as someone who cares passionately about this city and its welfare I’ve been doing my own soul searching since Thursday’s announcement on whether we could have done more.

I hope those others are doing the same, because what needs to come out of this sorry saga is a plan of action to stop more firms from following suit.

Prior to Christmas I’d never known a time like it, with job loss proposals on an almost daily basis. Those decisions may also be decided upon, therefore it is the losses on the horizon that need to be identified and stopped.

Norwich cannot change its location, but we need to convince employers, both current and potential, of the many positive reasons to set up in and around the city.

Such as it being a wonderful place for their staff to live, ever improving access to London and beyond, a traditionally healthy economy and so very much more.

In Norfolk we’re often accused of not being good at shouting about ourselves. That needs to change.

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