A petition calling for Walkers to rethink plans to close its Peterlee site has gathered more than 1,500 names within just 24 hours.
Horden Parish Councillor Darren Meadows set up the online campaign after he read our story revealing the plant faces being shut down at the emd of the year.
Hundreds of workers are facing redundancy after the company said it was looking to make savings and ensure its long-term growth in the UK.
Labour Councillor Meadows said: “I read the article and it was devastating, straight away.
“I saw some comments from workers saying they couldn’t speak to the press or put anything on social media about it and I just thought the petition was a way to show support from the community of East Durham.
“There are families who all have jobs there.
I was shocked when I heard about it, it’s not just a factory on an industrial estate, but somewhere people come together.Councillor Darren Meadows
“Quite quickly there was 1,400 names on it and that’s gone up, and that’s been within just 24 hours.
“I was quite surprised with how fast it was, but people want to come out and support it and the region.
“We want Walkers to think again about shutting the site down.
“People leaving school will be looking for jobs and they are so important for the economy.
“I was shocked when I heard about it, it’s not just a factory on an industrial estate, but somewhere people come together.
“I was looking at the history of it and it’s been there since 1960.
“It’s part of Peterlee and I’m a councillor for Horden, so it’s not in my ward, but everybody knows it and this will have an impact on a lot of people’s lives.”
One of the workers commented on the petition: “I’ve worked at Walkers for 14 years and the factory and the people have become a part of the family.
“It’s going to be very difficult to start all over again looking for employment.”
Peterlee Town Council and Durham County Council have said they will be offering workers support.
The factory was built by Newcastle-based Tudor, then became a Smiths factory.
It was renamed Walkers in 2003, when owner Nabisco decided to concentrate on that brand.
The factory produces Crinkles, Walkers Sensations, Scampi Fries, Bacon Fries, Cheese Moments and Cheetos Twisted.
The petition can be found at: http://bit.ly/2m0txuf.