So Britvic have announced that they will probably be closing their factory in Chelmsford with the loss of two hundred plus jobs.
Britvic is the only huge national name I can think of that started out in Chelmsford and has a big presence still in the city today, yet with their merger with Irn-Bru looking likely to through (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it) it seems increasingly likely that the British Vitamin Company, as they were originally known, will have very little connection left to the town of its birth.
Not that this move is a complete surprise, of course. They shut their Broomfield Road offices some time ago and moved them out of Essex, so to hear that the factory may be going too simply feels like a delayed announcement.
The thing is, it’s more than just losing a century old Chelmsfordian company. The loss of 250 jobs means more unemployed, but even more importantly it means less money being spent in the local area. These employees at worst will spend money locally on petrol or food as they go on their commute, and at best will live locally, putting money into local businesses who in turn employ local people and money into the local council.
This same council has been quite quiet about Britvic slipping away from us.
Did we do anything to stop it? Were we offering better terms to entice them to stay? Have we ever done anything to boasts of their history with Chelmsford, or to help incorporates them into the everyday lives of people in the area? It doesn’t seem so (though I readily admit I could be wrong).
Surely we should be fighting tooth and nail to keep them here? Slashing council costs to help hundreds keep their jobs? And if we’re not doing it for a big firm like Britvic, are we doing it for smaller firms in the area?
With an economy crippled by recession, we need our council actively supporting businesses. We need them to keep our city working. We need them to plan for the future and not ignore the present.