THE MAN who oversaw the halving of the workforce at Southampton’s Ford plant has been promoted to a top post at an overseas factory.

Plant manager Martin Chapman has taken over the reins at the motor giant’s Cologne operation in Germany, which produces the Ford Fiesta – the UK’s best-selling car – as well as the Ford Fusion.

It was a leaked memo detailing meetings between Mr Chapman and other Ford bosses that first lead to the Daily Echo revelations about huge job losses and cuts in production at the Swaythling Transit factory.

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More than 500 workers walked out the gate for the last time in May this year – ten months after the Daily Echo had exclusively reported that their jobs were at risk.

Plans to export production of the iconic Transit overseas and leave the Southampton workforce just making chassis cabs were put back due to the economic downturn but have been given the thumbs up by senior management in the US.

Mr Chapman had been at the helm of the Southampton Transit plant since December 2006 and left yesterday.

The man stepping into his shoes is Ford veteran of 29 years, Thomas Fischer.

Mr Fischer, 46, started his career as a Ford apprentice and has focused on the manufacturing side of the business.

He has worked at the company’s plants at Halewood on Merseyside and Valencia in Spain as well as being manufacturing engineering manager at the Cologne operation.

The dad-of-two now lives in Hampshire.