14 April 2000

Meat plant fire costs 70 jobs

A NORFOLK meat processing plant is to close following a fire. A total of 70 workers will lose their jobs. The RS Baker & Sons plant in Elsing, near Dereham, takes pigs from more than 50 local farmers.

The plant, in business for more than 70 years, was partially gutted by the mid-January blaze. According to company chairman Richard Baker, damage to the plant was initially estimated at between £3 and £4 million, but rebuilding estimates are now running as high as £8 million, making re-opening prohibitive.

Mr Baker said: "We are devastated because we have been a profitable business making £300,000 to £500,000." The decision had also been influenced by the current attitude of the Meat Hygiene Service and the Environment Agency, which he described as "unhelpful". &#42