Building bosses announce plans to axe 56 jobs and scrap production at Fenland brick works

WORKERS have been left reeling after a major brick manufacturer announced plans to axe more than 50 jobs by scrapping production at one of its Fenland sites.

Saxon brick works, in Whittlesey, is set to be “mothballed” by building supplies giants Hanson Building Products with 56 jobs facing the axe.

The proposal - prompted by a fall in demand for Whittlesey’s famous Fletton or London-type bricks - would also see an investment of more than �1.1million in the neighbouring Kings Dyke site.

The plans would see Hanson’s Whittlesey workforce reduced from 325 to 269, with a portion of Saxon’s 109 employees offered the chance to move to Kings Dyke.

Jim Claydon, Hanson Building Products managing director, said: “We produce two types of bricks in equal quantities at Kings Dyke and Saxon – flat set, also known as facing, and edge set or common.

“The market for common bricks is declining at a higher rate so we need to change our processes to make more flat set bricks if we are to remain competitive.

“Our proposal is to invest over �1million to refurbish the presses at Kings Dyke and create a new flat set production line. That will mean Kings Dyke alone will be able to meet current and future market requirements for Fletton bricks.”

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If approved the proposal would be implemented in October. Affected employees have been notified and a 30-day consultation period over the redundancies has begun.

Mr Claydon added: “We have reached a point where we simply can’t go on producing so many edge set bricks.

“We already have two years worth of stocks on the ground, and the market is continuing to fall. It’s simply not sustainable to continue making products that we can’t sell.

“The proposed changes will help to secure the long term future of the Whittlesey site.”

The market for Fletton bricks is declining at around three per cent a year. In 1974 the annual demand for them was over 3,000 million but in 2010 the total UK brick market was around 1,500 million with Flettons accounting for less than 10 per cent.

Mr Claydon also said the company was proposing to change the shift patterns at Kings Dyke so they fit better with the brick kiln cycle and improve production.

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