MELKSHAM MP Michelle Donelan and local council leaders have reacted to news that Cooper Tires is to close its factory in the town next year with the loss of up to 350 jobs.

Miss Donelan said she will be meeting representatives of Cooper Tires later today to find out more detail about their closures plans.

She added: “Obviously, I am very sad about the news. The have got over 300 employees.

"I am going to visit them today and talk through what they are going to do to support those members of staff and make sure that they fully aware of all the opportunities that are available locally.

"I do feel for those people who found out the very unsettling news about their jobs, especially at a time when we are facing rising costs of living.

"I can understand how worried they will be about this and that's why I will be making sure that they are getting the support they deserve.

"My door is always open should they wish to contact me."

Melksham’s mayor councillor Simon Crundell said: “It is with immense sadness that we have learned of the closure of the Cooper Tires factory in Melksham.

“Founded in 1885, the factory has been at the heart of Melksham’s economic and cultural life for many generations, putting Melksham on the map.

“I will be meeting with representatives in due course to discuss how the 350 employees can best be supported throughout this difficult time, and although this is a sad day for Melksham, my thoughts are with the employees of the factory.”

Councillor Richard Clewer, the leader of Wiltshire Council, said he was “very sad” to hear the news that the factory is to close at the end of 2023.

“Cooper Tires has been part of the DNA of Melksham for over a century. I’m not surprised to hear it, there has been ongoing uncertainty, but it is sad it has come to this.

“On a positive, there are a lot of employers around Melksham and they are looking for skilled workers,” he said.

Union leaders reacted angrily, with Tony Hulbert, from the Unite union, saying: “The timing isn’t great with mortgage rates going up and now potential job losses.

“They could have waited until the new year so we could get a picture of how 2023 was looking.”

The American-owned company is pulling out of Melksham after more than a century and its site is likely to be sold for redevelopment.

In a statement, The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe said it plans to close its UK tyre manufacturing plant in Melksham by the end of 2023.

The company will now begin a consultation process on the proposed closure involving 350 Cooper employees and the relevant employee representative bodies.

Gavin Champion, HR Director at The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Europe, said: “Our Melksham site has struggled to be competitive for some considerable time and everyone involved has worked extremely hard to keep operations going for as long as possible. However, this has become increasingly challenging in the current business environment."