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Hope for Shepton cider mill as hundreds offered jobs

There's hope that some of the 127 workers due to be made redundant at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill will be offered jobs by the Brothers cider firm.

The factory first started production in 1953. Credit: ITV News

C and C, the Irish owners of the mill, are closing the plant but today announced Brothers has bought a new bottling factory.

The sale includes the land and the buildings housing the bottling line which are located on Kilver Street across the road from the principal buildings of the Cidery. The Krones bottling line has capacity to produce 1.5 million bottles a day.

It says it's struggling to keep up with demand for its flavoured ciders and is expanding operations in Shepton but it'll be at least three months before it will have enough equipment to begin operations on the Kilver Street site.

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Mixed reaction to Chancellor's visit

The Chancellor has announced more money for Cathedral repairs and visited Wells Cathedral today.

George Osborne also toured a cider factory to see how a drop in cider duty will impact business.

But leading names in the tourism industry here in the West have criticised the government for not doing more to help them.

Our political reporter Robert Murphy has the story.

George Osborne visits cider factory

The Chancellor George Osborne has been visiting Somerset to announce more money for Cathedral repairs and also to capitalise on last week's announcement of a drop in cider duty.

But tourist attraction owners have told ITV News their campaign for a reduction in VAT has been ignored, putting jobs at risk.

Our political reporter Robert Murphy was with the Chancellor.

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Campaign to cut tax on cider

The South West Taxpayers' Alliance is calling on the Chancellor to abolish the Duty escalator on cider. Credit: ITV News West Country

A campaign to cut cider tax is being launched at Bristol Cider Festival today.

The South West Taxpayers' Alliance is calling on the Chancellor to abolish the Duty escalator, where the price rises two percent above inflation every year.

A similar duty on beer was scrapped earlier this year.

The campaign is being backed by a number of MPs in the West Country where the cider industry has been doing so well in recent years.

Late apple blossom is good news for cider makers

Spectacular blossoms are signs of a good apple harvest Credit: National Association of Cider Makers

Cider-makers in the Westcountry are celebrating the best apple tree blossom in more than a decade. Last year’s bad weather spelled disaster for growers and cider makers in the region after cold and wet weather devastated crops and crippled the harvest.

This year’s blossom has arrived around two weeks late – but is bigger and stronger than cider chiefs could have hoped for.

Neil McDonald runs Orchard Ground Force, an artisan cider producer based near Glastonbury. He said: “This is by far the best blossom I have seen in at least ten years. Last year was worrying – it started with a poor blossom and got worse from there. Around 30 per cent of crop was destroyed.

“In the last few days the trees in our orchards have blossomed beautifully. It means this year is looking exceedingly promising. We’re expecting a terrific crop in a couple of months."

Cider company begins investment programme

The Shepton Mallet Cider Mill is beginning £1 million worth of investment. Credit: ITV West

A cider company in Somerset has begun a £1 million investment programme to support new orchards.

The Shepton Mallet Cider Mill is inviting growers to apply for funding with the successful schemes starting in the new year. It hopes the new trees will eventually provide an extra ten thousand tonnes of apples for the site.

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