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Business secretary Greg Clark responds to our plea over action on under threat Norfolk jobs

PUBLISHED: 15:21 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:21 21 November 2017

Business Secretary Greg Clark. Pic: Aaron Chown/PA Images.

Business Secretary Greg Clark. Pic: Aaron Chown/PA Images.

PA Wire/PA Images

Business secretary Greg Clark has responded to our plea for an explanation of what he is doing to help more than 1,150 people in Norfolk whose jobs are on the line - but failed to fully answer the questions we posed.

In the past six weeks, workers at key sites across the county have been told that their jobs are at risk.

There is uncertainty over the future of the Britvic/Unilever site in Norwich, at BAE Systems at RAF Marham and at the Bircham Newton headquarters of the Construction Industry Training Board.

Hundreds of jobs could be lost from the county if those companies relocate to other parts of the country - a huge blow for Norfolk’s economy.

That prompted Eastern Daily Press editor David Powles to pen an open letter to the Conservative government’s business secretary asking ‘what can you do to help?’

While Mr Clark has promised to speak to bosses at Unilever to try to persuade them to keep their operations in Norfolk, he has been less forthcoming in what other action the government is taking.

Urging him not to let Norfolk be left behind, our letter asked for answers to three questions:

• What have you and your department done to try to save the jobs currently at risk across our county?

• Have the firms involved sought any assurances from government that could help keep them in Norfolk, and were any given?

• How will the government help Norfolk to remain an attractive location for business, both for employees and firms?

We have received a response from Mr Clark, in which he acknowledges workers are facing a “worrying” time. But other than saying the government is in “close contact” with the companies involved, he offered little detail of what is being done.

He said: “This has clearly been a worrying and uncertain time for workers and their families, which is why the government is in close contact with the companies involved, local MPs and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

“Through our industrial strategy, which will be published next Monday, we will set out the government’s vision for how we can build on the local strengths of places across the UK, including Norfolk, so we can create new high-paid, high-skilled jobs while supporting an environment where successful businesses can emerge and grow.”

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