A CRISIS meeting is to be held between the GMB and Black- burn with Darwen Council over Thwaites plan to axe jobs.

The meeting came about after the GMB Union asked council chiefs to work with it over proposals to axe 51 jobs.

The union said claims that job losses were due to the collapse of a town centre redevelopment plan needed to be investigated.

In talks with the union, Thwaites is said to have link- ed the job losses with the failure of a major new town centre supermarket plan.

Thwaites’ plan to sell its site to Sainsbury’s to fund a new Blackburn brewery collapsed last year – with the future of a car park the key sticking point.

The fact the council will not give up the last 70 years of a 99-year-lease is claimed to have prevented the devel-opment.

A meeting between GMB representatives and council bosses will now take place on Monday.

GMB regional officer San-dra Blight said an open dialogue was needed to get to the bottom of the issue.

She said: “We need to und-erstand what has gone on.

“There are 51 jobs on the line here, and it will affect whole families who all live in Blackburn.

“It is going to have a dev-astating impact, and the sugg- estions that the council can help save these jobs need to be explored.”

The original plan had been to see the Daniel Thwaites brewery move out of the town centre, selling the 7.2-acre Penny Street site to Sain- sbury’s.

The plan, which would also have sparked a town centre regeneration, stalled after weeks of behind-the-scenes talks.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw also intervened to try to broker a deal.

Miss Blight said: “Now that jobs are at risk, the public need to know, and we need to know, what can be done, and what has gone on between Thwaites and the council, to try and prevent this.”

Sainsbury’s said it had been keen to bring about the dev-elopment, but that a range of factors prevented them. A spokesman said: “We worked with the council and Thwaites for nearly three years and were naturally disappointed that a range of factors made it impossible for us to develop the site”.

Thwaites declined to comm- ent on the meeting.

A spokesman for Black-burn with Darwen Council said it was unable to com-ment ahead of the meeting on Monday.