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New Bernard Matthews factory 'would create 650 new full-time jobs'

PUBLISHED: 10:19 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:31 10 April 2019

Bernard Matthews workers processing turkeys  Picture: BERNARD MATTHEWS

Bernard Matthews workers processing turkeys Picture: BERNARD MATTHEWS

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A new poultry plant extension planned for north Suffolk is set to create hundreds of new jobs aimed at Brexit-proofing the business.

A chicken factory at Bernard Matthews at Upper Holton near Halesworth would create a stable workforce  Picture: SIMON PARKERA chicken factory at Bernard Matthews at Upper Holton near Halesworth would create a stable workforce Picture: SIMON PARKER

Norfolk-based turkey giant Bernard Matthews has applied for permission to build an extension to its large factory at Holton, near Halesworth, to process chicken, rather than turkey, and says 650 jobs would be created at the new plant.

Holton Parish Council has objected to the proposed 19,409m sq factory, which would be 11m high, in its current format, raising concerns about the increases in traffic it would create. Six letters of objection have also been submitted, raising a number of issues including the effect on property values, safety, noise pollution and smells.

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The application, set to be considered at an East Suffolk planning meeting on Tuesday, April 16, is described by planners as a “well thought out proposal which complies with local and national planning policy and will generate significant local employment”, and they are recommending approval of the plans, subject to various conditions.

The Bernard Matthews factory at Holton, on Halesworth airfield, pictured from above  Picture: MIKE PAGEThe Bernard Matthews factory at Holton, on Halesworth airfield, pictured from above Picture: MIKE PAGE

“The proposal seeks to provide a significant number of full-time jobs to address the less opportunities for the recruitment of guest workers,” a report to councillors says. “A year round full-time workforce of a scale matching the peak Christmas period workforce is attractive in employment terms. This was stated as to be achieved by processing other poultry as well as turkey, outside this traditional peak.”

The existing factory is used to prepare turkey-based foods and operates throughout the year, but 75% of total annual production takes place during December, which means it has to recruit more than 650 workers for a short period each year, “something now proving more difficult to achieve”, the report says.

At the same time, demand for chicken-based food is consistent throughout the year and the new factory next door to the existing facilities would enable 675 mainly full-time staff to be employed. “These additional staff woudl be re-deployed in the run-up to Christmas to supplement the workforce in the turkey production factory meeting the seasonal peak in demand.”

The proposed expansion “would generate little additional traffic compared with the existing peak season”, but would mean the peak traffic level would become year round, say planners.

“This working practice improves the productivity and efficiency of the site and creates more stable and attractive employment within the community.”

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