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Government in spotlight over Southampton Ford Transit plant closure
She will be joined by other local MPs, demanding answers on Ford’s bombshell closure plan. More than 500 jobs will be lost when the factory closes next July.
A minister from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, expected to be Michael Fallon, the department’s “contact minister” with Ford, will be asked to respond to their queries.
Southampton MPs John Denham and Alan Whitehead will be pressing the minister on the controversial £10m Government hand-out approved for Ford less than a week before it announced the plant’s closure, and what questions were asked.
Ministers have insisted they were not told about the company's plans when they were assessing its bid for cash under the Regional Growth Fund.
But Prime Minister David Cameron muddied the waters when he told The Commons last week: “Obviously these discussions take place.”
As previously reported, Ford has insisted “categorically” that the Growth Fund bid and the planned closure of the Southampton plant are “completely unrelated”.
Mrs Nokes said she would push the case for a new city deal to be awarded to the Solent area, bringing wide-ranging devolved powers from Whitehall over the local economy, transport and job creation.
She said: “There are some important issues that I want to raise, not least to really pin down the Government on the support they’re going to offer the workforce.
“I also want to raise issues about the supply chain. Although Ford is offering quite a generous redundancy package, there are issues about the other companies in the supply chain, and I want to put pressure on Ford to do more for them.”
Some long-serving Ford workers have been offered redundancy packages of £80,000, while contract and agency workers will get far less generous terms.
Unite, the union, is due to hold a mass meeting of Ford workers next week and will ballot members of whether they want to oppose the plant closure. Strike action has not been ruled out.