Good news and bad on jobs front

WHILE jobs at one of Stowmarket's major employer's could be under threat, a retail giant could be set to move into town.The ICI paint plant, which employs around 90 people in Needham Road, has announced 1,400 jobs will be lost worldwide, with 300 in the UK.

WHILE jobs at one of Stowmarket's major employer's could be under threat, a retail giant could be set to move into town.

The ICI paint plant, which employs around 90 people in Needham Road, has announced 1,400 jobs will be lost worldwide, with 300 in the UK.

It is feared some of the losses could be centred on Stowmarket, although bosses are remaining tight-lipped about this.

A spokeswoman said: "We're not in a position to say where the changes will occur. We're in consultation with employees, which could take up to 90 days, and we'll be able to make an announcement after that."


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The cuts at the paint and chemical group come on top of 700 job losses announced in May as the group launched a major restructuring programme

after seeing first quarter profits slide.

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ICI said that the economic outlook remains uncertain as second quarter results published today showed profits falling 22per cent to £98 million.

To soften the blow, around 35 new positions could be created just yards away from ICI, on land off Gipping Way and Bridge Street.

DIY store-chain Focus made moves to set up business in the town, after withdrawing from a previous bid in March.

The fresh application, which was discussed at a meeting of Stowmarket Town Council last night, would include parking for 120 vehicles.

It received a majority backing of ten to one at last night's meeting and town councillor Marilyn Finbow said: "The town has been crying out for DIY store for years and now is our chance.

"We can't keep throwing away these opportunities and we must take this one. At the moment people have to go to Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds for a DIY store and we need this to keep people in the town."

A previous application was withdrawn by Focus when Mid Suffolk district council officers recommended its refusal. This was on the grounds other sites had not be properly considered, including locations in Prentice Road and Bury Road.

However, the chain has now come back with a similar bid and refutes suggestions other locations would be more suitable.

Town councillor Gordon Paton supported this claim and said: "If you look at the alternative sites, they are simply not suitable.

"What we have to recognise is that most people visit these places by car. This seems to a good site because it's off the relief road and there's good parking. It's something the town very much needs."

The retail chain hopes to tap into to a potential market worth up £6.5million, capitalising on the perceived lack of competition in the area.

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