MORRISONS has been called to show its commitment to Bradford after the announcement that the company was planning to close a Bradford site – a move that would see over 450 jobs lost.

And Bradford Council’s leader says there is currently concern about the future direction of Morrisons – which is one of the city’s biggest success stories.

The company has assured the Telegraph & Argus they “remain committed to Bradford” despite the planned local cuts.

Last week it was announced that Morrisons planned to cease operations at Cutler Heights, the supermarket chain's first-ever produce site.

The move is set to take place in the second half of this year and will put the jobs of 456 employees at the site at risk of redundancy.

The company said it will be "consolidating" and moving all operations to its other fruit packing site in Thrapston, Northamptonshire – over 150 miles away from the city the supermarket chain was founded in in 1899.

Other jobs would be moved to Wakefield.

Morrisons said the changes help with efficiency savings, together with a reduction of around 650,000 food miles annually.

The Cutler Heights site would be retained by Morrisons and repurposed into a pet food manufacturing operation – but the company said this will take some time.

And earlier this month hundreds of contact centre jobs at Morrisons' HQ on Gain Lane were transferred to telecom services firm Webhelp.

Both moves were heavily criticised by local politicians, with Bradford South MP Judith Cummins (Lab) saying it was “terrible news for Bradford and is clearly devastating for the hundreds of people who have found out they may lose their job here.”

And the shock announcement about the Cutler Heights closure was discussed at a meeting of Bradford Council on Tuesday evening.

In the Leader’s announcements, circulated at the start of the meeting, Council Leader Susan Hinchliffe said: “We were all very concerned to hear of nearly 500 people facing the prospect of being made redundant at Morrisons.

“That is a high number in any business but for Morrisons, a proud firm founded in Bradford, it is particularly concerning.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Council Leader Susan Hinchliffe Council Leader Susan Hinchliffe (Image: newsquest)

“I have asked to meet with management to understand how they are supporting their staff through this period and also what their wider plans are for the business on this site given this decision.”

Councillor Matt Edwards (Green, Tong) said: “I’m pleased to see the Council is being so proactive on this. It will have big implications for the South of Bradford. A lot of Tong ward residents work at Morrisons, and there are also concerns about what will happen to the site going forward.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “Morrisons is a much-loved brand, and we’re very proud of them in Bradford.

“For that reason I went to the AGM when the ownership changed.

“It is not just a business, it is part of our history. Ken Morrison is someone a lot of people in Bradford remember and love.

“This is very much about concern for jobs now, but it is also about the future.

“The decisions they make are significant for now, but what about the next 10, 15 and 20 years. We want to see a continued commitment to Bradford so it remains a proud Bradford brand forever.

“But the immediate concern is with the employees whose jobs are under threat.

“The first thing measure is to make sure we talk with Morrisons about how to support these people, and help them get other jobs.

“Or of course, if they change their mind it would be even better.

“We will be speaking to them about their plans for the business. These are financially uncertain times for all businesses, but we want to maintain our relationship with such a key business in our area. It is important to understand where they are heading.”

When the Telegraph & Argus asked for a response to these comments, a spokesman said: "Morrisons remains committed to Bradford, to Yorkshire and to our roots as we ever were.

“We employ over 2,000 colleagues at our head office and a further 6,000 in our stores and sites in West Yorkshire. Over time, we also hope to bring new business into the site in Bradford."

Morrisons shut its city centre supermarket on Westgate in 2016.