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The shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has described the decision by Ford to cut as many as 1,400 jobs in the UK as a "devastating blow".
He told ITV News the jobs are being lost in precisely the sector that the UK needs to build on.
Ford has announced plans to close its plant in Southampton and downsize operations in Dagenham with risks to 1,400 jobs.Read the full story ›
The leader of Southampton City Council, Richard Williams, gave this statement in response to the decision to close the Ford Transit Van factory in the city:
This is the news we feared and it's a very bad day for the city. It certainly doesn't feel as if we are coming out of recession here in Southampton.
Now that we know the plant is to close next summer, we have to act quickly to support the 500 workers affected and alleviate the knock-on effect of such a blow to local industry.
The city council will be forming a taskforce along with trade unions, Jobcentre Plus and local MPs to help find new employment for the affected staff.
He added that it was important to protect the "strategically well-placed site" of the factory for "manufacturing and engineering" operations.
Workers in Ford's Transit van assembly factory in Southampton were sent home for the day after they were informed that the plant will be closing.
"Our expectation is that about 1,000 people will accept the voluntary [redundancy] offer - and to repeat, it is a voluntary offer - and therefore about 1,000 plus people will leave the company," said Ford Europe CEO Stephen Odell.
He said the company has to "reflect the economic and business conditions that they are involved in" and that the European automotive industry was "20 percent below where it was in 2007".
The Southampton Labour MP John Denham, who is also the parliamentary aide to Ed Miliband, has described Ford's decision to shut the factory that makes the Transit van as "devastating":
White van man drives a Southampton transit. Now he'll have to buy it from Turkey. Fords decision bad for UK, devastating for Southampton
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
Today’s news will be very disappointing for the workers at Southampton and Dagenham who have been very aware of the challenges facing the auto sector throughout Europe. Our priority will be to help the workforce and we will be working with Ford to get them into new jobs as quickly as possible.
Ford has today underlined its continued long term commitment to its core activities in the UK and its £1.5 billion programme of investment in advanced manufacturing, engineering and research and development until 2015.
And the company has today announced that production of the new low carbon diesel engine will start in 2015/6 which is being designed and engineered at Dunton and built at Dagenham. This is good news and underlines Ford’s commitment for the long term. Ford has applied for money from round 3 of the Government's Regional Growth Fund to enable this project to go ahead and we were pleased last Friday to announce support for this going forward.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Ummuna said Ford's UK job cuts reinforce Labour's stance that today's GDP figures leave no "room for complacency" on the economy:
Ford's announcement shows there is no room for any complacency whatsoever as we seek to secure and strengthen the economy