HUNDREDS of jobs are to go after a major electronics company announced it is pulling out of North Tyneside.
Microchip giant Atmel has revealed it has sold its site on Cobalt Business Park and will be moving production to America and France.
High level talks are now taking place between the company, North Tyneside Council, One NorthEast and other partners to help find alternate work for the 600 employees at the site.
The factory has been taken over by Highbridge Business Park, owners of the Cobalt site, with the equipment believed to have been sold to a competitor in a multi-million pound deal.
Atmel – who took over the site in 2000 after previous owners Siemens pulled out – announced last December that they were looking to move out of North Tyneside.
A meeting took place Tuesday between Atmel, the council, One NorthEast, Job Centre Plus, Business Link North East and the North East Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future of the site and employees.
Borough council chief executive Andrew Kerr said: "We are very disappointed at this corporate decision by Atmel.
"The closure is a severe blow for the people employed at this plant and for the area.
"It will leave staff and their families very worried about their future.
"Our first priority is the workers and their future.
"This is a highly skilled workforce which has worked extremely hard to create a high performing operation at the plant and we will do everything we can to retain those skills in the area."
North Tyneside Mayor John Harrison added: "I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism of the workers at the plant for the way they have dealt with the uncertainty Atmel created with their decision to sell the plant in December 2006 and their negotiations with potential purchasers.
"Our priority now is their future."
A spokesperson for Highbridge said: "We can confirm that Highbridge has acquired the Atmel site, and we will be announcing the details of this further development to Cobalt in due course."