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Union admits factory workers will struggle to find new jobs

A union had admitted it will be difficult to find new jobs for the 200 workers losing their jobs because of a factory closure in Norfolk.

Food manufacturer Heinz has confirmed it will shut its plant at Worstead, near North Walsham, in April.

It follows the loss of a contract to make frozen potato products for the Aunt Bessie's brand.

Malcolm Robertson reports.

Factory closure is 'devastating news' for staff

The closure of the Heinz factory in north Norfolk is "devastating news" for workers, union representatives have said.

Usdaw, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, said the timing of the announcement - just days before Christmas - made it particularly upsetting.

David Gill, Usdaw national officer, said the workers did "not deserve this" but acknowledged the loss of the contract with the owner of the Aunt Bessie's brand had been a big blow to the factory.

"Confirmation of the closure is devastating news for our members, their families and the wider community, particularly just before Christmas.

"Our priority is to work with the company to help find alternative employment for the staff. We will continue in consultation meetings throughout January to agree the procedures for the expected closure of the plant in April.

"There is no doubt that the loyal and committed staff on-site do not deserve this, but the loss of the Aunt Bessie's contract has proved to be a fatal blow."

– David Gill, Usdaw.

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Heinz to close Norfolk factory

The Heinz factory at Westwick, Norfolk. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Heinz has confirmed it will close its Westwick factory in Norfolk next year.

The food manufacturer first began consulting on plans to shut the site near North Walsham in October following a decision by the William Jackson Food Group - owner of the Aunt Bessie's Brand - not to renew its licence with the company.

Heinz says, without the contract to manufacture its frozen potato products, there is no longer enough work to keep the factory operating.

A spokesman said attempts to find a buyer for the site had failed.

The factory will continue operating until April 2015, when the Aunt Bessie's licence ends.

Heinz will now focus its efforts on helping workers to find other jobs and will carry on discussing closure plans with unions until at least mid-January.

Fresh closures on the A14

Another series of overnight closures begins on the A14 tonight.

From 8pm this evening, to 6am tomorrow the road will be completely closed westbound between junctions 32 and 36. It will also be fully shut eastbound between junctions 31 and 32. Diversions will be in place.

Work is already ongoing on the A14 for the Girton to Histon Pinchpoint programme. A national programme, it involves making improvements to busy points all around the country's road network. The aim is to stimulate growth in the local economy, relieve congestion and improve road safety.

A14 roadworks for the Pinchpoint programme Credit: ITV News Anglia

Pledge to fill empty homes

Labour says the number of empty homes in Norwich has reached crisis point. Credit: ITV

More than 1600 homes in Norwich are currently sitting empty, according to the local Labour Party. Labour's candidates for the city's two seats say reducing fees chargd by letting agencies and capping excessive rent increases would ease the problem.

The government says the number of a empty homes in England has fallen by 160,000 since the end of 2009, reaching a 10-year low.

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Osborne promises 'major new improvements' to road system

George Osborne says he will this week set out "major new improvements" to the UK's roads system.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the Chancellor said:

It's a major improvement in our country's road system which was, frankly, neglected and we're spending much, much more money than even the previous Labour government when they were spending money like there was no tomorrow...You're going to see major new improvements on key roads, to the south-west of England, through Norfolk, up through Northumbria

– George Osborne

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£36 million scheme to improve Clacton coastal defences makes significant progress

The new coastal defences will protect more than 3,000 homes and businesses for the next 100 years.

A £36 million scheme to improve coastal defences between Holland-on-Sea and Clacton has made significant progress.

Two new fish tail groynes have been built - with two others close to completion. 70,000 tons of granite has also been delivered to the site from Norway.

Cambridge best city to find a job

Cambridge and Milton Keynes fertile grounds for job hunters. Credit: PA Images

Cambridge is the best city in the country to find a job, according to a new report by the search engine Adzuna.

The research looked at how many jobseekers there were applying for each vacancy.

Milton Keynes is also fertile ground for job hunters - coming in 10th on the list. And the average salary across the East of England is up almost 3% on last year.

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