ONE of East Lancashire biggest manufacturers has announced plans to close its base in the area with the possible loss of jobs.

Baxi Heating UK's Padiham site is to be shut after the company announced it was to centralise its north west operations at its factory in Club Street, Preston.

The proposed move will involve transferring Padiham's production and design and development facilities to Club Street.

Some 387 people work on the shop floor at the Wyre Street site and 113 in management and staff.

Company bosses said a "significant" number of workers would be offered jobs at the Preston site, although it was "too early " to put a number on possible job losses.

However, a union boss has reacted to the news with dismay.

Amicus representative and county councillor Terry Burns said he was planning to visit the firm on Thursday to hold meetings with the company bosses.

He said: "This firm is a major employer in the area and this is another stab in the back for manufacturing in East Lancashire.

"It is diabolical. I will be trying to change the management's mind and get them to stay on site."

A spokesman for Baxi said: "A significant number of employees from the Padiham site will be given the option of relocating to Club Street, and a consultation period will begin immediately.

"The proposed decisions have been made with a view to Baxi Heating UK achieving greater commercial focus and better meeting the demands and expectations of our customers.

"It is too early to put a figure on any potential job losses because there will be a full consultation, but there will inevitably be some people affected."

The news is the latest blow to the area's manufacturing base after car parts firm TRW Automotive in Burnley announced almost 60 jobs could go.

Other recent casualties include Time Computers, engineering firm Viktor Achter and bedding firm Red Rose Stitching.

The total number of manufacturing jobs to go tops 3,000 in the last few years, although council bosses claim they have created around 1,000 new jobs.

The Baxi Group employs more than 5,400 people throughout Europe with a turnover of £860million, at factories across Europe. The firm produces mainly boilers and heating equipment.

Baxi Heating UK has also announced a decision to close its Preston based Alfer cast iron foundry.