As a review into the future of one of Sudbury’s biggest industrial sites is set to begin, businesses are being called on to give their feedback on how they see their future in the town.
Babergh District Council announced this week that it has appointed consultants Carter Jonas to conduct an options and appraisal study on the Delphi Diesel Systems plant in Newton Road.
The company has confirmed it will wind down operations at the factory after more than 70 years in the town, impacting more than 500 jobs.
The study, commissioned as part of Babergh’s role in the South Suffolk Taskforce, aims to find the most sustainable future for the site.
Meanwhile, the taskforce, which is chaired by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and comprises representatives from town, district and county councils and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has also invited businesses in and around the town to attend a meeting next month.
The purpose of this forum will be for retail and industrial companies of all sizes to discuss Sudbury’s strengths and weaknesses as a business location, with a survey being distributed for all businesses to fill out.
Among those in attendance is Philips Avent, which itself has raised concerns about the future of its manufacturing plant in Glemsford.
Mr Cartlidge said: “While the main focus of the taskforce has been the closure of the Delphi site, we are interested in the future of the Sudbury economy as a whole.
“I would encourage all local businesses to attend the meeting and look forward to hearing their views about how we can strengthen the economic environment.”
The South Suffolk Taskforce meeting will take place in Sudbury Town Hall on Friday, September 7, between 10.30am and noon.
In addition to Philips Avent, representatives from Nestle Purina, Winch and Blatch and the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce are also set to be in attendance.
Companies are also being asked to complete the Sudbury Economy Business Survey, which seeks their views on what constraints there are on their growth in Sudbury, and what local or national policy issues concern them.
Copies of the survey can be found online at www.jamescartlidge.com/news/south-suffolk-taskforce-business-forum.
Any businesses wishing to attend the meeting have been asked to confirm by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 020 7219 4875.
The taskforce is still heavily involved with Delphi, and it has supported the marketing and investment promotion efforts led by the New Anglia LEP.
Brochures have also been supplied to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), British embassies and other channels to help market the site, in the hopes of finding a buyer than can take on the plant and much of the existing workforce.
Chris Dashper, head of programmes at New Anglia LEP, said: “It’s vital that we find the right kind of industrial activity to take advantage of this excellent site and highly-skilled workforce.
“In conjunction with the work the LEP is doing with DIT to promote the site as an investment opportunity, this study is crucial to achieving that aim, and is further evidence of the commitment of the South Suffolk Taskforce to reach a successful outcome for staff, the local supply chain and the town of Sudbury.”
Babergh District Council says it believes the Delphi factory remains a prime industrial site for Sudbury and the south Suffolk economy, adding that the authority’s full focus is on preserving it for a single industrial use.
It hopes the options and appraisal study will produce evidence and assessment work that can be used to identify the opportunities for the site and how these could benefit the local economy.
Simon Barrett, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for the economy, said: “The Delphi site has been providing employment for the people of Sudbury for many years, creating skilled, well-paid jobs in the town, and we’re committed to seeing that continue.
“It’s sad news that Delphi themselves have left, but Sudbury continues to offer a well-connected, good value location with a dedicated and talented workforce.
“We’ll be working hard to attract the right employers to the site and to making sure the work offered at site continues to be a source of pride for our residents.”
Published by the Suffolk Free Press.