MP seeks council intervention

COLCHESTER MP Bob Russell has urged the town's council to secure the future of an historic company.Industrial fan makers Flakt Woods, formerly known as Woods of Colchester, was due to move its operation to the new Cuckoo Farm development just south of the A12 in Colchester.

By Annie Davidson

COLCHESTER MP Bob Russell has urged the town's council to secure the future of an historic company.

Industrial fan makers Flakt Woods, formerly known as Woods of Colchester, was due to move its operation to the new Cuckoo Farm development just south of the A12 in Colchester.

The company employs 500 workers and has an annual turnover of more than £50 million.


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But the move, which would have released millions of pounds of highly-sought-after brownfield land for 750 houses at its current outdated site in Tufnell Way, Colchester, is now on hold after the company declared it was not financially viable.

Problems arose when the costs of the Cuckoo Farm move increased, combined with the burden of the financial obligation to pay costs towards the redevelopment of Tufnell Way to Colchester Borough Council.

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Council officers are now in negotiations to thrash out a deal with Flakt Woods, which workers fear could move to Eastern Europe if no agreement is reached - giving it access to a cheaper workforce.

Mr Russell said yesterday that the council must "take whatever action is required" to save the workers' jobs.

"I have no doubts that Colchester people want Woods to stay in Colchester and that they are looking to the council to do all that is necessary to make sure this happens," he said.

"Quite bluntly the town cannot afford to lose Woods, the jobs and the £15 million which the firm pumps into the local economy every year.

"The bottom line should be that the council must do whatever is required to keep Woods in Colchester.

"There are not just the 500 jobs directly provided by the company but also a similar number at other firms, either directly or indirectly, through local purchases, sub-contracting and support services."

The application for the development of the Tufnell Way site and relocation to Cuckoo Farm will be discussed by Colchester Borough Council's planning committee on Thursday.

The applications have been recommended for approval by council officers, subject to certain conditions.

Steven Knowles, managing director of Woods, said yesterday: "We are still working very hard with the council to try and resolve the issues."

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