Wisbech councillor’s concern that not enough is being done to save hundreds of jobs from disappearing from the town

Councillor Virginia Bucknor

Councillor Virginia Bucknor - Credit: Archant

THERE is growing consternation that not enough is being done to save hundreds of jobs from disappearing at Moy Park in Wisbech in the light of a £20million expansion at Grantham.

Independent councillor Virginia Bucknor and Fenland Council Leader Alan Melton will both debate the issue on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on Monday morning.

Cllr Bucknor is fearful that Fenland Council has responded with a ‘too little too late’ attitude as the company prepares to “reposition” Wisbech as a cooked sliced meat facility only.

Cllr Bucknor believes that “whilst it may seem all done and dusted” she is confident the final decision has not yet been taken and could be amended at worst and at best rescinded.

Over the past few weeks she has taken dozens of calls and held numerous talks with some of those most affected.

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She is keen to find out whether Fenland Council and/or Cambridgeshire County Council have offered practical support.

And she believes that with many supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s shrinking the food chain the prospects for British produce is suddenly enhanced.

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“Tesco has announced (and no doubt Sainsbury’s will follow) that they’re proposing to only use British poultry following the horse scare,” she said.

“It is doubtful whether the company they currently use can adequately cope with this huge increase in capacity. So this short term decision may be the wrong one.

“The two cookers currently used in Wisbech by Moy Park may possibly be past their best but Grantham has limited cooker facilities.”

She said: “There is no experience in Grantham and certain staff would be required to relocate of course

“Many of the 300 staff possibly affected at Wisbech have been with the company for over 20 years. There is all this skill within Wisbech which we will lose.”

She added: “To lose 300 people from one employer in Wisbech will be devastating for our town: these people have mortgages, families. There will be no hiding the impact this will have on our local economy”

A meeting will take place at the Wisbech plant on March 18 between Fenland officials and Tony O’Neill, Executive Director for Convenience Foods and New Business, Roger Martin, Director of Operations, and Nigel Laing, General Manager.

Representing the district council will be chief executive Paul Medd, and members of his economic development team.

But Cllr Bucknor believes MP Steve Barclay – who has recently got involved- and council leaders should and must be more closely involved.

“The impact of this closure to not only the employees but the whole of Wisbech during this economic downturn is horrendous,” she said.

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