By Max Clarke

Responding to today's announcement that the New York based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer are to close their research and development site in Sandwich, England, at the cost of 2,400 jobs; Vince Cable, Secretary of State for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, said:

"It is extremely disappointing that Pfizer has decided to end its research and development activity at its site in Sandwich. The company has been clear that this decision was part of its global programme of change and not based on a judgement of the UK as a location for pharmaceutical research.

“I am establishing a local taskforce under the leadership of Kent County Council to work with Pfizer and the new Local Enterprise Partnership. David Willetts, Andrew Lansley and I will work closely with the Taskforce in the coming months to ensure every possible effort is made to mitigate the impact of Pfizer’s decision on local jobs and the local communities.

“We will also be meeting with Pfizer, other key companies and local representatives as a matter of urgency to discuss innovative ideas for continuing R&D activities in this very well equipped facility, and how the key strands of the R&D portfolio based at Sandwich can best engage with academic teams across the UK who have the potential to drive forward the most innovative areas of UK bioscience.

“This country is an attractive location for the life sciences industry and with R&D tax credits and our plans to introduce a Patent Box, the Government is committed to ensuring the UK is the destination of choice for investment, research and growth.”

Also commenting on the closure, Linda McCulloch, the national secretary of Unite- Britain's largest union, said:

"Weak employment legislation is to blame for Pfizer's sudden decision to close its world class site in Kent. Elsewhere in Europe Pfizer would have been required to meet with the workforce well in advance of such an announcement. It seems once again British workers have been dumped by a multinational company without good reason.