Mole seeks E.ON talks

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole was today setting up a meeting with bosses of E.ON to discuss their shock move to axe their Suffolk offices.He was seeking further information about their controversial decision to close their Wherstead Park offices and switch the work to their Coventry headquarters.

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole was today setting up a meeting with bosses of E.ON to discuss their shock move to axe their Suffolk offices.

He was seeking further information about their controversial decision to close their Wherstead Park offices and switch the work to their Coventry headquarters.

And he was also seeking further clarification from the company and trade union Prospect about changes to the company's redundancy packages that were announced only a week before the closure.

Mr Mole said: “I received a formal letter from the company about the closure at the end of Friday. It said its managers would be happy to meet me to discuss this and that is an invitation I shall be taking up on Monday.

“I am particularly interested to find out exactly what work was being done at Wherstead. I know they say it was business to business billing, but I can't think that required 340 staff - I would like to know who else was employed there.”

Although the company has said it would be offering relocation packages if staff wanted to move to any vacancies at its offices in Coventry or Rayleigh in Essex, it has not made any announcement about expansion at either of these sites.

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It said only: “The decision has been taken so E.ON can centralise its B2B (business to business) business sales and service teams at its Coventry headquarters.

“The news that the redundancy terms were changed is very worrying. There are clearly questions that need to be addressed.”

A webpoll by The Evening Star at www.eveningstar.co.uk attracted well over 800 responses - and showed that almost half of those felt the decision was the inevitable, if regretable, result of the takeover of TXU Energi five years ago.

Mr Mole felt it was unrealistic to expect E.ON to reverse its decision to pull out of Ipswich, but said there must be strong efforts to find a new occupant for the soon to be redundant Wherstead Park site.

“That is in a good position for a medium-sized company looking for a corporate headquarters. It has excellent communications, being just a short distance off the A14.”

Mr Mole hoped that Babergh council, in whose district Wherstead Park is, would be flexible about any future use for the site.

“I can see it would be attractive to a business, but I hope its development does not get caught up in too many restrictions,” he said.

While the closure of Wherstead Park was a major blow to the Ipswich economy - taking at least £10 million out of the area's economy - Mr Mole was anxious not to appear too gloomy.

He said: “There are signs up that Fred Olsen is planning to build a new headquarters on the IP8 site near Tesco at Copdock, and AXA has invested significantly in its offices in Civic Drive over the last few months.

“While the E.ON move may take £10 million out of the Ipswich economy, their moves have put a lot of money into the economy.

“And the staff who are losing their jobs will be highly sought-after by other employers in the town. When there were hundreds of redundancies a few years ago they found new jobs and have a superb reputation as excellent - and well-trained - workers.”

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