THE Government Minister responsible for deciding the future of 1,000 jobs at a Taunton factory postponed a planned visit to the town today (Tuesday).

Derek Twigg, who called off the trip for personal reasons, is due to announce before the end of the month where the UK Hydrographic Office will be sited.

The service will either be rebuilt within its existing Admiralty Way grounds; move to a new area of Taunton; or relocate to Exeter alongside the MetOffice premises.

A UKHO spokesman said Mr Twigg planned to reschedule his visit, which also includes talks at the MetOffice.

Taunton MP Jeremy Browne, who has worked tirelessly to keep the UKHO in Taunton, said he had not expected Mr Twigg to make his final announcement on Tuesday anyway.

Mr Browne added: "An announcement is still expected before the end of January.

"The campaign to keep the Hydrographic Office in Taunton has left no stone unturned.

"I have lobbied Derek Twigg, and his predecessor, Tom Watson, at the Ministry of Defence, initiated a full debate on the Hydrographic Office in the Commons and presented a large petition.

"The County Gazette deserves great credit for its determined campaign to save the Hydrographic Office.

"Taunton Deane Council, along with Somerset County Council and Project Taunton, are also trying to stop the service moving to Exeter.

"I have had numerous meetings with the senior management and union representatives at the UKHO.

"We do need modernised facilities for the service, but there is no reason to move it from Taunton - 1,000 people are employed there and it is a vital part of the economy of our area.

"It could not have been made clearer to Government Ministers and officials the importance of keeping the Hydrographic Office in Taunton. I just hope they make they right decision."