Park future up for grabs

WHERSTEAD Park's future is today shrouded with uncertainty - but there are strict conditions about what can happen to the large site just outside Ipswich.

WHERSTEAD Park's future is today shrouded with uncertainty - but there are strict conditions about what can happen to the large site just outside Ipswich.

It is in Babergh district, and officials from the council said today that its classification as “employment land” meant that conversion to a hotel or retirement home was not an option.

Mike Hammond, Babergh's Corporate Director, said: "On hearing E.ON's announcement of job losses, we immediately contacted the relevant Government bodies which operate emergency redundancy programmes and who will consider the level of appropriate response.

"Babergh is also looking at the possibility of assisting this process by matching skills to existing vacancies in the district by writing to businesses and offering to put the redundant workers in touch with companies that may have positions available.


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"Wherstead Park, and surrounding land, is a substantial employment location on the southern edge of Ipswich and Babergh's Local Plan states that this should be retained for employment use.

"A member of Babergh's management team is also trying to contact the company to arrange a face-to-face meeting with its Chief Executive to see how we can further help after this announcement."

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The announcement caught other local authorities unawares - both Ipswich council and Suffolk County Council did not know about the closure until told by The Evening Star.

Now councils will be working with other employers and the Chamber of Commerce to try to ensure that employees are found new jobs.

Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant said new jobs were being created in the town, especially with the opening of University College Suffolk and the expansion of Suffolk New College.

She said: “This is a big blow for the area, and I am desperately sorry for everyone who is affected, it must be a very worrying time for them.

“But we have absorbed job losses like this in the past. Ipswich is a very resilient place and I hope that we can do as well in finding new jobs as we did back in 2003 when hundreds lost their jobs when TXU collapsed.

“The borough will do everything it can to help out.”

And borough chief executive James Hehir had a message of hope for those facing redundancy: “When there was the last round of big job losses, the people from TXU/Powergen found jobs around the area.

“They are very good workers, well-trained, and well motivated. Those who are sadly losing their jobs this time should not have too much difficulty in finding new work - many employers will be very keen to take on E.ON staff,” he said.

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