Task force discusses Pfizer loss from Sandwich

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Pfizer plant at Sandwich
Image caption,
Politicians are looking at other ways to use the purpose-built facility and skilled workforce

A task force set up to help a Kent town deal with the closure of drugs plant Pfizer has met for the first time.

Science Minister David Willetts, who visited the site on Monday, and Business Secretary Vince Cable are among the members of the group.

The research and development facility in Sandwich employs 2,400 people.

Mr Willetts said the priority was to "hold on to the highly-skilled workers and ensure the world-class research they conduct there continues".

Mr Cable said the task force was working to find an "ambitious solution" to minimise the impact on the local area.

A number of Kent MPs and borough and district council leaders attended the meeting at the Department for Business in London.

Representatives of the pharmaceutical company also attended.

The task force is being led by Kent County Council leader Paul Carter.

'Explore opportunities'

He said: "It has been all hands on deck since last week's announcement and the main objective will be to find as much high quality employment on site as possible.

"Time is of the essence and we must continue to explore every realistic opportunity."

The task force will examine employment opportunities for the site and assist workers facing redundancy.

It will provide a report to Mr Cable containing its proposals within 30 days and provide weekly reports to universities in the region.

Pfizer has said most staff will be made redundant, but it hoped to transfer several hundred positions to other UK sites or partner organisations.

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