Study commissioned to explore future of key industrial site in west Suffolk

Campaigners who are trying to save The Delphi Club are redecorating the centre today. Picture: GREGG

Campaigners who are trying to save The Delphi Club are redecorating the centre today. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A month-long study which will explore opportunities to save a major industrial site in Sudbury has been commissioned by the district council.

Babergh councillor Simon Barrett.

Babergh councillor Simon Barrett. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Consultants Carter Jonas have been appointed by Babergh District Council to conduct the options and appraisal study for the Delphi site, which is situated off Newton Road in the town.

Delphi Diesel Systems announced in August last year that the site will be scaled down before finally closing in 2020, with the loss of around 500 jobs.

Babergh says it is committed to attracting the right employers to takeover the nine-hectare site and provide jobs for the highly-skilled workforce – and the study will provide evidence to identify future opportunities.

Simon Barrett, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for economy, said: “The Delphi site has been providing employment for the people of Sudbury for many years, creating skilled, well paid jobs in the town, and we’re committed to seeing that continue.

Jack Owen

Jack Owen - Credit: Archant

“It’s sad news that Delphi themselves have left, but Sudbury continues to offer a well-connected, good value location with a dedicated and talented workforce.

“We’ll be working hard to attract the right employers to the site and to making sure the work offered at site continues to be a source of pride for our residents.”

The South Suffolk Taskforce – chaired by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge – was launched in October last year following the closure announcement, with the aim of safeguarding the site.

But the taskforce, which includes representatives from Suffolk County Council, Babergh and advisers from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), came under fire from Unite the Union in March this year for its apparent lack of progress.

Chris Dashper, head of programmes at New Anglia LEP, said the taskforce is committed to “reach a successful outcome for staff”.

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“It’s vital that we find the right kind of industrial activity to take advantage of this excellent site and highly skilled workforce,” he said.

“In conjunction with the work the LEP doing with DIT to promote the site as an investment opportunity, this study is crucial to achieving that aim, and is further evidence of the commitment of the South Suffolk Taskforce to reach a successful outcome for staff, the local supply chain and the town of Sudbury.”

Jack Owen, county councillor for Sudbury and former town mayor, welcomed the study but said quick action is needed to keep the highly-skilled workforce.

“Anything which makes an effort to save the site has got to be good news. This is not a political issue, it’s an issue which affects the whole of the workforce and the whole town.

“In its heyday, Delphi had 2,400 employees and people would come from Ipswich and Colchester and all over the area to work there.

“It’s a very skilled workforce but things need to happen quickly because I’ve spoken to workers who are either seeking alternative employment or considering taking early retirement.”