A 'MULTI-agency' task force is being launched to help Chard cope with the potential loss of 860 jobs in the town.

One of the areas largest employers, Oscar Mayer, announced yesterday that it has started a process with employees which could see the factory shut it's Chard sites over the next 12 months.

Now, the leader of the county council, David Fothergill, and the leader of South Somerset District Council, Val Keitch, have reacted to the shocking news.

In a joint statement, they said: “We were saddened to hear the news of the potential loss of Oscar Mayer and 860 jobs from their factories in Chard. This is a blow to the economy and the community of Chard at what is already a challenging time.

"We are committed to working together to support all those at risk of losing their jobs, to find new work and, where needed, retraining opportunities. We are also committed to developing a plan of action to support Chard, its communities and economy moving forward.

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"We are convening a Multi-agency task force to deal with the immediate impacts of the potential job losses. We have already contacted the relevant partners to start working together immediately and we are heartened by the swiftness of their response and readiness to help.

"We will also be working with Marcus Fysh MP to support the convening of a business group to look at redeployment opportunities for those at risk and what actions and initiatives we might take forward together to support the local economy and its development.

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"With Marcus Fysh, we will be seeking to enlist the support of government to ensure we have the right resources to help the economic recovery and regeneration of Chard and support the residents and communities of the town.

"Despite the other challenges we face at this time, residents of Chard should be assured that both Somerset County Council and South Somerset District Council, together with our partners are there for the town and its communities.”