Moving day for Chatteris firms - and up to 400 jobs- to £20m headquarters at Alconbury Weald amid continuing criticism by MP Steve Barclay
PUBLISHED: 15:03 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:03 12 April 2017
The controversial switch of MMUK and MM Flowers from Chatteris – where they employ up to 400 workers- to Alconbury is nearing completion.
They are moving into £20 million 220,000 sq ft premises at Alconbury with business rates incentives for the first five years.
MP Steve Barclay has questioned the propriety of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) creating circumstances in which the move has happened.
He believes the LEP has unfairly the movement of jobs away from Fens to the Alconbury Weald enterprise park.
The LEP chairman Mark Reeve has also faced criticism from Mr Barclay as his company, Chalcroft, won the contract to build the new HQ for MMUK and MM Flowers.
Only 17 new jobs are expected to be created when the fruit and flower specialists complete the move; the companies will move from two separate buildings in Chatteris.
Andrew West, head of HR for both firms, said: “We are very excited to be moving into our new premises. Where we put down roots it’s very important to us and we are looking forward to becoming part of the Alconbury Weald community and recruiting local people to join our team.
“We believe it is important to invest in the local community, promote a healthy work-life balance and empower our employees to reach their full potential through continuous learning and development.”
Once complete, the headquarters will be one of the largest fresh produce facilities in the UK and will enable them to bring together its grape and flower teams to grow and develop its offering to customers, which include some of the country’s leading supermarkets.
Rebecca Britton, of site owner and developer Urban&Civic, said: “We are delighted that MMUK and MM Flowers are joining our growing business community at Alconbury Enterprise Campus.
“Its ethos of sustainability, fair trade and local community involvement fit well with the culture Urban&Civic is promoting at the campus.
“MMUK and MM Flowers are keen to recruit locally and being supported by EDGE, the recruitment and jobs brokerage service that is helping to match local people to job opportunities at Alconbury Enterprise Campus.”
MMUK is part of the global AMC group which has centres across USA and Canada, South Africa, Spain and Chile, and works with growers across 20 countries worldwide.
In a series of report to the National Audit Office (NAO) Mr Barclay has raised concerns about the relationships and declarations of interest provided by Mr Reeve to the LEP.
In its response to the NAO, the LEP said it was “wholly inaccurate and defamatory” to suggest that any of their board members had been rewarded in their private business interests by developers in return for preferential treatment by the LEP.