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"A lot to play for" at Colman's factory says Norwich MP Clive Lewis

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, right, speaks to Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard at the Unilever Colman's factory in Norwich. Picture: D Faulkner

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, right, speaks to Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard at the Unilever Colman's factory in Norwich. Picture: D Faulkner

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"There is still a lot to play for" in the fight to keep one of Norfolk's most famous brands in Norwich.

That was the message from Norwich South MP Clive Lewis when he visited the Colman’s and Britvic sites in Trowse.

It comes after Robinsons squash maker Britvic announced proposals to leave Norwich by the end of 2019, with 242 jobs at risk, leading Unilever – owner of the mustard factory on the shared site – to review its future in the city.

The two global companies share facilities and services at the factories and while Britvic is planning to move Unilever has said it is considering all options including expansion.

JOIN: Back our campaign to save historic Norwich factories and 355 jobs

MORE: Colman’s and Robinsons colourful history in Norwich

Mr Lewis was not allowed into the factories to talk to workers but spoke to union representatives outside the entrance.

He said: “I have spoken with the Unite shop steward from Unilever and it is clear to me that while staff are subdued there is still a lot to play for there with the company looking at the potential opportunities for expansion on the site.”

He added Britvic had offered him the opportunity to hold a surgery with staff at the site on October 26 which he was hoping to bring forward.

Unilever employs 113 staff at the Carrow Works factory, which has been producing Colman’s mustard since 1858.

In a statement announcing its review Unilever, which bought the condiment brand in 1995, said it recognised the importance of the connection between Colman’s and Norwich and whatever the outcome of the process it would seek to retain links with the city.

Mr Lewis said he would seek conversations with senior management at both companies as well as writing to secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark.

He said: “The first thing at risk is the jobs of hundreds of people.

“It has an effect on the secondary supply chain and the local economy. It hurts the whole city and that is my chief concern.

“Unemployment may be low but this type of employment, well paid manufacturing jobs, are hard to come by.

“It is also the impact on the self-image of the city, it is part of the fabric of the city.

“Colman’s is Norwich and Norwich is Colman’s.”

Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard, who met with Mr Lewis, said the union would be campaigning to keep the brand in the city.

He said: “Colman’s is in the DNA of Norwich and it would be a tragedy to see it go.

“We will continue talks at the highest level and working with local agencies to make sure the process is as pain free as possible.”

The Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News have launched a campaign calling for the jobs to be saved in the city.

To sign the petition click here.

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