Union to fight after Ipswich site sold
UNION leaders have vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to try to keep a large engineering company in Ipswich after it announced it had sold its site.Crane Ltd is one of the town's largest employers, but its future links with Ipswich remain unclear following the sale of its 43-acre site on Nacton Road.
UNION leaders have vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to try to keep a large engineering company in Ipswich after it announced it had sold its site.
Crane Ltd is one of the town's largest employers, but its future links with Ipswich remain unclear following the sale of its 43-acre site on Nacton Road to a company within the Allied Property and Leisure Group in a deal understood to be worth around £18million.
Allied plans to apply for permission for a mixed-use development for the site, which is earmarked by planners for industrial use.
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Crane, which employs around 250 people, is a leading UK manufacturer of valves, fittings and engineering products, and its links to the town date back to 1921, when it bought the site. At one stage, more than 1,000 people were employed there.
Peter Wilson, the firm's current managing director, said as part of the sale agreement, Crane will lease part of the property for up to two years “to allow its ongoing manufacturing and head office activities to be transferred to new premises”.
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The company has refused to comment further on its future plans, including whether the new site will be in the town.
Ian Marshall, regional officer for the Amicus section of Unite, which represents just over 100 employees at the site, said they were still in the dark about the company's future plans.
“I understand it's their intention to retain a presence within Ipswich. What of course we don't know at the moment is exactly what that presence is going to be. We would like that presence to be more or less what they have at the moment, employing about the same number of individuals,” he said.
“We will obviously fight tooth and nail to retain as much as possible in Ipswich and use every avenue open to use to secure people's jobs.”
Large numbers of staff at the site would “almost certainly” find it very hard to find similar employment in the town, because there was no longer the heavy industry base in Ipswich.
“We are looking to arrange to meet with them in early January so we can put a bit more meat on the bones so we know exactly what it is we are likely to be dealing with,” he said.
“We would want a commitment from them that all or the vast majority of jobs currently in Ipswich will remain in Ipswich.”
Richard Atkins, economic development spokesman at Ipswich Borough Council said there would have to be discussions if anyone wanted to build homes at the site.
“We very much hope that Crane find new premises within Ipswich itself, but we understand they may have to look a bit further afield,” he said.
“The site is earmarked for employment use, but Crane currently only occupy a very small part of it.
“It could be possible that a new factory and foundry could be built for them on a small part of the site, freeing up the rest for other business use.”