MORE than 100 staff at one of Widnes' biggest chemical manufacturers have been told they will lose their jobs within a year.

Bayer CropScience announced on Friday its Widnes site was to close following dwindling demand for one of two chemicals manufactured by the Gorsey Lane operation.

When German company Bayer took over the plant from Aventis two years ago, the European Union's Monopolies and Mergers Commission ordered it to diversify.

Steve Tynegate, site manager, said the diversification meant giving over a large proportion of the plant to the manufacturer of a fungicide.

But production of the chemical is winding down in line with worldwide demand. The lay-offs will begin between next spring and summer.

The rest of the production, of a chemical for use in sugar beet farming, is to be moved to India.

Mr Tynegate said his priority is to help redundant staff find alternative work.

He said: 'There were rumours but the news has still come as a shock. The staff here have won awards and work very hard.

'There are 105 staff at Widnes and every post will be made redundant.

'A major proportion of the plant was used to manufacture a fungicide for other companies and recently demand for this product has fallen.

'We have not been able to secure additional activity for the site.'

A borough council spokesman said: 'We have offered the company help from People Into Jobs and it's up to them if they want to take advantage of that.'