AstraZeneca to slash jobs -

AstraZeneca has become the latest company to issue P45s.

The drugs company, which recently obtained a £5 million government grant to expand its  Alderley Park research and development centre has said it will be slicing jobs.

It will be closing the Alderley Park R&D facility, which will mark the loss of 550 jobs there and 150 elsewhere in the UK over the next three years.

A further 1,600  jobs are also at risk, with the company also announcing these will be moved   from the Cheshire centre to Cambridge where Astra is relocating its headquarters and creating a new £330 million R&D centre.

It said it had chosen the new site as the town offered Cambridge University, local hospitals and biotech companies, which offered a talent pool and opportunities for collaboration.

It added that by 2016, the new site was expected to house a "highly-skilled workforce" of approximately 2,000.

AstraZeneca tried to soften the blow, claiming in a statement that it would continue to have a strong presence in the North West with some 3,000 employees at Alderley Park, its Macclesfield manufacturing site and the MedImmune vaccine manufacturing facility in Speke.

It is just over a year since the company, which employs 6,700 workers at eight UK sites, announced 7,300 job cuts as part of a cost-cutting drive.