Up to 90 bakery workers could be left struggling to earn a crust following an announcement by British Bakeries to close the Hovis bakery in Toynbee Road by June – a move which could see 191 houses built on the site.
Premier Foods, owners of British Bakeries announced last month they would be shedding up to 600 jobs – 5% of their 12,000 UK workface – as they struggle to refinance a debt mountain believed to be in the region of £800 million.
The proposed closure is described by the Daily Echo as:
“The latest hammer blow for manufacturing in Eastleigh”
Industry has previously been well represented in Eastleigh, but a series of closures and relocations over the last decade – with many major employers being off shored – means that manufacturing now only accounts for 6% of the local GDP. Jobless figures for the town have now risen for the last eight months in a row to its highest level in almost two years.
Premier Foods CEO Michael Clarke said on the company website:
“While decisions to reduce the work force are always difficult I’m convinced we are taking the right steps in the long term interests of the business, employees and our stakeholders”
A strategic land availability assessment carried out by council planners last July identified the 5.6 hectare site as prime building land with room for up to 191 family dwellings and said it was an undesirable location for industrial use due to the traffic and noise generated by lorries along Toynbee Road – although it’s clear that the council did not anticipate the site becoming potentially available so soon.
Hopes will be raised among campaigners that with the unexpected availability of a town centre Brownfield site suitable for development will result in scaling back of controversial plans to build on Greenfield land at Boorley and Stoneham.
See also Julian Robinson in The Daily Echo