Did Compair move cost workers' jobs?

A COMPANY chief at the helm of a well-known Ipswich business has defended a decision to relocate to new premises, after workers claimed the move had cost them their jobs.

A COMPANY chief at the helm of a well-known Ipswich business has defended a decision to relocate to new premises, after workers claimed the move had cost them their jobs.

The Evening Star revealed last week that Compair Reavell was set to leave its current base in Ranelagh Road and switch to a new location on the Landmark Business Park, off Whitehouse Road.

Bosses at the company heralded the move as a "real boost for the economy", claiming the decision to remain in Ipswich would secure jobs.

However, around 20 jobs have been lost in the company's machinery department and several more employees have been re-deployed in the new business, leading to criticism from workers facing redundancy.

John Lockwood, a machinist affected, said: "When Compair was bought out, the new owners wanted their money back and the way to do it was by selling the site, meaning I now find myself looking for a job.

"It's very sad to think that yet more skilled engineers are being lost to the town.

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"Going back several years, there was a lot of industry here. Now, more and more are going out of the town, while they build posh apartments for people from outside Ipswich."

Another machinist, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "They are saying this is a great move and will keep lots of jobs, but they are already getting rid of some of us.

"I am going to be kicked out because a sub-contractor can do my work."

However, Compair's managing director, Malcolm Blackwell denied that the decision to move was connected with the recent redundancies.

He told The Evening Star: "After a strategic review to decide what we wanted to do as a business, we chose to close the foundry and also decided we would exit from machinery.

"There is no link, though, between us moving to the new premises and making redundancies - there is no link at all. It is purely a decision based on our strategic review.

"The business has been on the current site since 1898 and while we highly value our heritage, we recognise that Compair needs a more modern building.

"We could have moved to another area where incentives were available, however we are committed to our staff and the Ipswich area."

Mr Blackwell added that some of the buildings on the Ranelagh Road site were constructed more than 100 years ago and required perpetual maintenance.

He said: "The new Landmark site will be much more suitable and will offer modern facilities.

Simon Meecham, Ipswich Borough Council's economic development manager, said that the decision by Compair Reavell to remain in Ipswich was good news for the local economy, despite the bittersweet circumstances of the move.

He said: "The Council has been working hard for the past two years to help broker a location solution for the company."

n. What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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