Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

AstraZeneca announces plans to close Loughborough site

AstraZeneca in Leicestershire
The centre develops treatments for lung and breathing problems

One of Leicestershire's major employers is to shut its operation with the loss of almost 1,200 jobs.

Managers at AstraZeneca's research facility on the outskirts of Loughborough met staff to discuss their future on Tuesday.

The firm announced 8,000 worldwide redundancies in January, following more than 12,000 posts going as part of earlier efficiency plans.

Over the past 10 years more than £100m has been spent developing the site.

In a statement, the company said it had "shared with its employees further details of proposals designed to improve the productivity of its global research and development organisation."

The Loughborough site is expected to close by the end of 2011.

A smaller facility in Cambridge is also to close, the company said.

Loughborough MP Andy Reed said the job losses would be a major blow

Pharmaceutical development work will cease at its Avlon base near Bristol with some work being transferred to Cheshire.

The firm announced 8,000 worldwide redundancies in January, following more than 12,000 posts going as part of earlier efficiency plans.

January's announcement said restructuring would include 3,500 research and development posts being cut worldwide.

'Desperately sad news'

Linda McCulloch, Unite the union's national officer for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, said: "This is a devastating blow to the workforce at Loughborough.

"The closure of this site will damage the UK's pharmaceutical research and development capabilities.

"Unions will be in formal discussions with the company and will do everything possible to minimise the impact of this announcement."

Leader of Leicestershire County Council David Parsons said: "I want to speak to AstraZeneca as soon as possible, to understand exactly what is being proposed and to see if there is any possibility of the plant remaining open."

Councillor Mike Preston leader of Charnwood Borough Council said; "We are clearly very concerned about the loss of employment and the futures of all the staff affected, as well as the effects on the local economy."

Nick Carter, chairman of Prospect Leicestershire, the regional economic development company, said: "This is desperately sad news for the workers of AstraZeneca and a grim day for Loughborough.

"We will be working with Charnwood Borough Council, other organisations and local Mps to see what can be done to minimise the impact on the local economy and to find new ways of bringing employment to the area."

An employee leaving the site, who did not want to be named, said staff were, "Absolutely stunned at the sheer stupidity of the decision".

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One of Leicestershire's major employers is to shut its operation with the loss of almost 1,200 jobs.



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