A MOTION calling for action to save one of Colchester’s most historic factories from closure has been backed by councillors.

Engine manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions announced in July it was to consult on plans to shut the Paxman factory before the end the year meaning the loss of up to 80 jobs and the end of the firm’s 155-year history in the town.

Bosses say the coronavirus crisis has led to the decision but said work is ongoing to see if an alternative to closure can be found.

At a meeting of the full council, a motion asking Colchester MP Will Quince to lobby the Ministry of Defence and Department of Transport was debated.

Councillors backed an amendment to the motion made by Paul Dundas.

He called for the council to note its regret investment was not made by MAN to move towards manufacture of renewables.

In a debate which lasted close to an hour councillors blamed each other for making the issue political.

Council leader and Lib Dem Mark Cory said: “I would like MAN Energy Solutions to reconsider moving away from Colchester.

“We are talking about people’s jobs and we are talking about people’s livelihoods.

“It is really important for Colchester that we do discuss this.”

Tory councillor Lewis Barber said: “I think what can we do now in reality?

“The MP has had discussions with the group that owns the company in question and I think what we have to do as a borough is look at what we are doing going forward.”

Kevin Bentley argued Colchester should look to become a “beacon” for green energy and business.

But Labour’s Julie Young added: “I can’t sit by and not speak up for those workers.

“The men I met were such highly skilled individuals that they worked way over their retirement age because it is such a specialist field they are employed in.

“Those men stay there to pass on their skills to younger workers who come through the system and we should all be standing up for those workers.”

MAN Energy Solutions said consultation on the proposed closure was ongoing with “all possible alternatives” being reviewed.