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Clive Lewis: Government 'cannot wash hands' of Unilever and Britvic's proposed Norwich closures

PUBLISHED: 16:43 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 03 October 2017

MP Clive Lewis.
Picture: Nick Butcher

MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

The MP for the Norwich constituency where hundreds of factory jobs have been put at risk said the government "cannot wash their hands" of the situation.

Britvic has announced plans to close its factory in Bracondale, Norwich, which employs 242 people. Picture: Nick ButcherBritvic has announced plans to close its factory in Bracondale, Norwich, which employs 242 people. Picture: Nick Butcher

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, was speaking after Colman’s mustard maker Unilever and soft drinks giant Britvic announced proposals to move their Norwich operations elsewhere.

MORE: More than 200 jobs at risk as Britvic announces plans to close Norwich factory

MORE: Colman’s Mustard factory in Norwich could shut after Britvic announces closure plans

MORE: Business leaders pledge their support following Britvic and Unilever’s Norwich factory decisions

Mr Lewis said the closure would have wider reaching implications for workers, their families and local companies in the Britvic and Unilever supply chains.

“Jobs in manufacturing are hard to come by in Norwich and this is going to be a blow, but it is not a done deal,” he said.

“Britvic in particular said no decision would be made prior to consultation, and I am going to hold them to that, as I am sure the local authorities and trade unions will.

“I do not see the rationale behind vacating the whole site and I will be looking at that with local authorities to come up with an alternative. There could be other options for Unilever rather than shutting up shop and moving away.

“Unilever are very keen to push the social side of their brand so I am going to press them to walk the walk as well as talk the talk in Norwich.

“The government cannot wash their hands of this either. They are spending money in other parts of the country like the North East to keep jobs. If they can do that elsewhere, let’s see if that can do the same in Norwich – it is just as important.”

Mr Lewis also expressed his support for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News campaign to keep the factories open.

He said: “It is fantastic that our local newspaper is putting its weight behind this campaign. I am very grateful and I am sure others will be, but what has it come to that to keep 500 desperately needed manufacturing jobs in our city, a local newspaper has to run a campaign?

“We have an economic model that says everything is about cost minimisation and takes no account of the impact those decisions have on peoples lives, communities and the environment and I think people are getting tired of it.”

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