United stance at Cromer Crab Company petition hand-over

Cromer Crab Company bosses will feel the force of opposition to their factory closure bid on Monday when a cross-party delegation hands over a 6,000-plus name petition calling on them to change their minds.

The watershed moment in an intensive campaign to save 230 jobs at the Holt Road factory follows a week when Cromer crabs reached the attention of Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government deputy Nick Clegg.

And North Norfolk District Council members have also voted unanimously to support moves to keep the factory open.

Comedian Russell Kane has added his support, telling his internet followers on Twitter that he had a 'soft spot' for Cromer and used to perform a routine about the Cromer crab.

In a letter to South-West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, Mr Cameron has noted Cromer's bid to gain for its crabs the sort of EU Protected Food Name status enjoyed by products like Melton Mowbray pork pies and Stilton cheese; a move which has been backed by Mr Clegg.

Monday's 10.30am handover of the Labour-driven petition will include members from all the major parties, including MP Norman Lamb and MEP Richard Howitt. as well as Steve Downes, deputy editor of the EDP's sister paper, the North Norfolk News which has its own Claws Off campaign.

Labour's Keep it Cromer campaign organiser Sam Rushworth said: 'The presence of all three parties on the same platform shows the strength of feeling on this.'

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Company chiefs are also meeting Mr Lamb and council representatives on Monday; day 25 of a 90-day consultation which could see shellfish processing moved to Grimsby or Scotland.

Mr Lamb will stress to company bosses they should recognise and exploit the 'potential gold mine' at Cromer because of its iconic crab.

The MP has also written to the managing partner of London-based investment firm Lion Capital, whose portfolio includes Young's, saying that he is extremely concerned about the 'devastating impact' closure could have on Cromer and asking for a meeting with him.

District council economy cabinet member Tom FitzPatrick said it was important to examine all possibilities as the consultation clock was 'ticking past fairly quickly,' especially for those whose jobs were on the line.

The company says 24 ideas on how to drive sales and reduce costs, have so far been raised at meetings of its consultative group.

* Copies of the petition are still available at shops with the Keep it Cromer logo and on line at www.keepitcromer.co.uk. There is also a petition, and car stickers for the North Norfolk News' Claws Off campaign, at the EDP's Cromer office.