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Ford closure would be devastating
7:34am Thursday 25th October 2012 in News
Leaders from across the political spectrum were united in their concern for workers and the impact on the local economy should the plant in Swaythling close as feared.
Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams told the Daily Echo the prospect of the Swaythling plant closing had come as a “complete shock” and a “serious bombshell”.
He said: “If this is true then the closure will be a devastating blow for industry in Southampton.
“We are all proud that the iconic Transit vans which keep businesses moving all over the world are made in this city.
He added: “We want to help those workers affected as much as possible. As a council we will work with Job Centre Plus and other local agencies to form a task force to help employees find alternative work.
“A similar approach was taken earlier this year when British Gas made 500 call centre workers redundant, and the vast majority have since been found new roles.”
Opposition leader Cllr Royston Smith described the expected pull out of Ford as “a tragedy”for the region.
“It would have a massive impact on the city and region.
Ford is a brand that is identified with Southampton, it would be a tragedy if the announcement is made that they are pulling out.”
He said he would call on the Government to do what it could to intervene if there was any hope of it being saved.
But he added there was only so much a Government could do if ultimately the plant was found to be uneconomical to keep open.
He added: “The priority should be to focus on giving anyone facing redundancy the best chance of getting them back into work as soon as possible.”
Eastleigh Borough Council Leader Keith House said: “The council has received no official statement on the rumours that the Ford plant could close. Ford’s Swaythling factory has employed local people to build the iconic Transit vans for around 40 years since 1972. If reports do prove to be true, the council will be devastated to hear of the job losses for local people.
“However we will work closely with Ford to provide all the help and support we can to assist those Ford workers that are made redundant with the opportunity to find another job or re-train.”
Hampshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jimmy Chestnutt said: “Ford have been part of the industry around here for a long time. It would be a tragedy for business in the area and the people who work there if there was a further reduction in hours or a full closure.”
He said a closure would hit the local supply chain as well as businesses who rely of the factory and its workers for trade.