I am extremely disappointed and saddened that, despite intense lobbying, Babcock International has decided to close Appledore shipyard.
This is a very worrying time for the employees and their families, as well as for the wider community. The first priority now must be to safeguard employment for the workforce, a large number of whom live in the North Devon constituency. I welcome Babcock’s commitment that all 200 employees will be offered jobs at other sites in the South West. However it is incumbent upon the company now to be very clear, very quickly, about the future employment arrangements for the Appledore workers.
The shipyard is in the constituency of Geoffrey Cox MP, and, together with the unions and the local community, we’ve been lobbying extremely hard. Just this week, we secured from the MoD a package of work worth £60 million which could potentially have safeguarded the future of Appledore. Despite this, Babcock have taken the commercial decision to close the yard. This is extremely regrettable. We also called in the CEO of Babcock to ask him for a long term commitment to the Appledore workforce. This morning’s announcement does, at least, hold out the prospect that there will be no compulsory redundancies.
Already this morning I have spoken to the Manager of JobCentre Plus in Barnstaple. I have sought assurances that any Appledore employees who come forward seeking advice and guidance will be accommodated as quickly as possible. It is clear there will be many questions at this difficult time, despite Babcock’s commitment that the entire workforce will be offered employment elsewhere. I thank JobCentre Plus staff in advance for the hard work that lies ahead.
Once again, our first thoughts must be with the employees, their families, and the wider community who will be impacted by this news. It is extremely disappointing that Babcock have gone ahead with this decision, and we must now all work together to help those affected.