Call for talks on roads

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THE state government is being lobbied to improve roads around the Inghams Enterprises chicken processing plant near Baxter.

The factory, which rose out of the ashes of a major fire in January 2010, has a staff of 600 processing more than 500,000 birds a week.

Following this week’s announcement of the loss of 170 jobs at BlueScope, Inghams is now the largest private employer in the area.

General manager Alan Wilson said projected increases in production meant that Inghams would increasingly use the larger B-double trucks that were hard to manoevre around the six-way intersection near Baxter Primary School.

However, despite claims made by Frankston Council officers, the company has no plans to close down if the roads issue cannot be resolved.

Councillors were told in a report to their 17 December meeting that the future of Inghams depended on the state government upgrading roads to safely carry B-double trucks.

The report said the company had told Frankston and Mornington Peninsula councils that its survival depended on the large trucks being able to access the new Peninsula Link freeway.

The report said the continued use of semi-trailers was uneconomic and jeopardised the livelihoods of 750 factory workers and 400 broiler farm workers.

Mr Wilson said B-doubles were already among the 100 trucks arriving at Inghams each week despite the road hazards.

He confirmed that Inghams wanted the two councils to lobby the government to improve the road network around the Grant Rd, Baxter, factory and have B-doubles officially approved in Golf Links Rd.

The company, which has been on the market since July last year, needs Frankston Council permission to run B-doubles along Golf Links Rd to Peninsula Link.

Council manages the road but wants it taken over by VicRoads.

Council officers said they did not know why VicRoads had withdrawn an initial offer to pay for road upgrades.

Councillors have called for a meeting with Transport Minister Terry Mulder and Frankston MP Geoff Shaw.

Mr Wilson said negotiations were continuing with potential buyers of Inghams Enterprises, “one of the 10 biggest privately owned companies in Australia”.

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