Government commits to helping Havant thrive again after Pfizer jobs blow

THE government has said it will take up the fight to protect Havant's economy after hundreds of jobs were placed at risk in the borough.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 10th November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:22 pm
Pfizer in New Lane, Havant 

Picture: Sarah Standing (161515-1496)
Pfizer in New Lane, Havant Picture: Sarah Standing (161515-1496)

Havant MP Alan Mak met health minister David Prior who has now pledged to work with Pfizer to find a new occupier for its New Lane site.

It comes after the drugs giant said it will leave its packaging and distribution base, where 270 staff face redundancy, by 2020.

After getting Whitehall’s initial commitment of help, Mr Mak plans to take things up with business secretary Greg Clark. Mr Mak said: ‘David Prior has committed to supporting the life sciences sector and helping Pfizer to find a new occupier for the New Lane site.

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‘Pfizer owns the site and the buildings so it is the decision-maker, but the council, government and I will help where we can.

‘I have arranged to meet business secretary Greg Clark next week to update him on Pfizer’s decision.’

Havant’s prospects have been hit this year as more than 1,000 jobs have been jeopardised.

But Mr Mak believes the borough can bounce back.

He said: ‘Havant’s economy remains strong and open for business.

‘With talented people, good transport links, and inward investment into areas like Langstone Technology Park, Market Parade and Dunsbury Hill Farm, Havant’s prospects are positive.

‘I meet new businesses starting up or moving to Havant regularly, and the council is pro-active in this area. I acted immediately and will be talking again to the council, Solent LEP and government ministers about how we can engage with Pfizer between now and 2020.’

Gary Jeffries, chairman of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, remains upbeat.

He said: ‘Havant plays a key role in the Solent economy and the LEP has invested to help the area achieve its potential.

‘This includes work with businesses directly through our Bridging the Gap programme in partnership with The News and, more recently, our £4.5m investment through the Local Growth Deal to bring forward a link road to the Dunsbury Hill Farm site. Our investment there has unlocked a more than 67,000m2 of employment-land which will create over 3,000 new jobs.

‘The area has incredible potential for future manufacturing and distribution activity, and Fat Face has already expanded its distribution facilities at the site.

‘We are now starting to engage with partners in Havant to see what assistance we can offer at this time and going forward to ensure businesses in the area continue to grow.’

SSE announced in March 600 jobs would be at risk through the closure of its Penner Road site.

In July, Xyratex said it was shutting due to a ‘weak macroeconomic environment’ and ‘accelerating usage shifts of technologies’.

A total of 324 employees based at its headquarters in Langstone Technology Park, in Havant, were affected.