THERE'S hope on the horizon for factory workers in Blackpool after months of living in fear of redundancies.

The Horizon Biscuit Group, which owns a factory on Devonshire Road, is currently in the process of merging with Burton's Biscuits, which has factories in Vicarage Lane.

And new managing director, Adrian Sharp, met with shop floor workers, management representatives and union officials at Devonshire Road on January 22 to discuss plans for the future.

Ian Hodson, branch secretary for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, said of the meeting: "I am always sceptical but I believe that if a site was to close it wouldn't be Devonshire Road after the presentation."

"Obviously people thought that jobs would go as they often do in takeovers. There are always concerns when two companies merge.

"We were all worried that they would shut the factory down as we have been kept in the dark as to what our fate was." But he was keen to stress that workers are not completely in the clear, despite recent reports which suggest otherwise.

"At the meeting with Adrian Sharp we asked about the certainty of our jobs," Mr Hodson said. "And he said there were people looking at all the factories within the group. He didn't give any indication that there were any threats here but there is no guarantee that jobs have been saved."

Concerns among staff were first raised last May when United Biscuits tried to buy Horizon Biscuits. Although the bid was turned down, it was later announced that Horizon was to merge with Burtons to form one large company.

Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said that between the two factories there are around 750 workers, which represents a significant figure for a non-tourism workforce. He said: "I recently spoke to Adrian Sharp and my impression was that there was a commitment to investment in Blackpool.

"I am cautiously optimistic that they will consolidate and expand their business in Blackpool and they are giving off the right signals, but this needs to be translated to specific investment and expansion in employment."

No-one at the Burton's site was available for comment.