A FRESH jobs blow last night hit a part of the region struggling to recover from repeated knocks.

Frozen meals firm Hibernia Foods announced plans to close its factory in Peterlee, County Durham, shedding 200 workers.

The Irish firm said this followed a "strategic review" of its frozen desserts business.

As part of restructuring, the production of frozen puddings at Peterlee could be transferred down the coast to the company's bigger site in Hartlepool.

The clock is now ticking on a compulsory 90-day consultation process with workers ahead of the closure.

"The company obviously regrets the need to close the site and its impact on the workforce," said the firm.

"During the consultation process, the company will work with the employees and external agencies to reduce as far as possible the effect of the closure of the Peterlee site on the local community."

Easington district councillor David Taylor-Gooby said: "I'm very concerned. It emphasises the fact that we need good quality employers."

East Durham has balanced good news with bad in recent years, offsetting hundreds of job losses in the clothing industry with brighter news from newer employers, such as mobile phone company Orange.