Planned Ford plant closure: Bridgend reacts

South Wales business leaders and local Government executives have been left reeling after Ford announced today that it’s Bridgend Plant, which employs more than 1,700 workers in the town, is scheduled to close in 2020.

Councillor Huw David, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said the town was devastated by the decision.
He said:
“Bridgend Ford has been our biggest single private sector employer at the heart of the community for almost 40 years. We are devastated for everyone affected by this decision, and we urge
Ford to reconsider and to work with both Welsh Government and the UK Government to keep this plant open.
“This is a dreadful situation for the staff at Ford to be in, and unfortunately it will have a knock-on effect on many other businesses which supply the plant with services as well as the wider economy, too.”

The company are expected to repay £11m in subsidies paid by the Welsh Government ahead of the plant closure.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said in a statement that the Government will do everything in its power to support those impacted by this announcement and to work with the company, unions and others to explore options for the future of the plant, praising the skilled workers who have served Ford over many years.  He said:

“This decision in no way reflects on the highly skilled individuals who have given the company great service over four decades.”

Bridgend County Borough Council pledged that the Council would offer to support the plant’s workers.  Leader of the Council Huw David said:

“Since rumblings about the plant’s future first emerged in January, we have been working alongside Welsh Government colleagues to have a specialist response team standing ready.

“The team features organisations who will work together to support Ford workers. It includes representatives from the council, Welsh Government, the Department of Work and Pensions, Job Centre Plus, Business Wales, Careers Wales, Bridgend College and more.“

“This response team will be able to work in partnership to offer a wide range of redundancy support and help workers gain access to new employment and training opportunities.

“The staff at Ford are highly skilled, world-class workers, and wherever possible, we will be encouraging other businesses within the county borough to offer them alternative employment.”

Bridgend businesses have said they are saddened and shocked by the news.  Lisa Baker, owner of Bridgend-based digital Marketing agency Need to See IT, said:

“I am in shock, this is a highly skilled workforce and Ford have invested heavily in the plant.  This is a sad day for our town.”

Ron Vyse, Managing Director of CSG Computer Services said some of his clients could be affected:

“This is devastating news for the Bridgend business community. Some of our clients are part of the Bridgend Ford supply chain.  Presumably they will be hit hard by today’s announcement. 

“There is thankfully some time to go before the planned closure, one only hopes that Ford will take that time to consider bringing production of some of their new generation of engines to Bridgend. Let’s face it, they have a skilled workforce here that is second to none.”

Heather Myers, CEO, South and Mid Wales Chamber of Commerce said:

“This is devastating news for Bridgend where this not only directly affects the hundreds of Ford employees, but the local supply chains, local economy and the wider community.

“Citing the fall in demand for the Dragon petrol engines as the reason, highlights how reliant our economy has become on global markets, and why International trade relations are vital to our supply chains. 

“Following so close on the news of the cancelled M4 Relief Road this has been a truly distressing week for the Welsh Economy. The South Wales Chamber of Commerce will continue to work to support supply chain resilience, access to new supply chain opportunities.   We will ensure the voice of business is heard and represented, to both Welsh and UK Governments, about what action is needed to ensure Wales’ continued ability to compete in a global economy.”

Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, Bridgend Borough Council said they would be asking for ‘significant investment’ from UK and Welsh Governments to offset the impact.  He said:

“Make no mistake, this is the single biggest blow to our economy since the closure of the pits in the early 1980s.“

“The council and its partners will be doing all that we can to support the community at large as well as the workers at Ford, and to minimise the effect on the local economy as much as possible.“

“If this closure goes ahead, Bridgend County Borough is going to need significant investment from both the UK Government and Welsh Government in order to offset some of the huge impact that this will have on the local economy, the area and the community as a whole.”