The aerospace company GKN has announced that it will definitely be closing its Yeovil site at the end of next year.
The company which makes airframes for Royal Navy helicopters began formal consultations with unions last month.
It came after Leonardo - which assembles the Wildcat helicopter in the town - told GKN it planned to take production in-house. GKN say they will try to help the 215 Somerset employees find alternative jobs at other UK sites.
A GKN spokesman said:
Following Leonardo’s decision to take all future AW159 Wild Cat work in-house, we announced in October that GKN Yeovil, as it stood, was no longer a viable business and we began a consultation period based on two options: significant downsizing or full closure.
Since then, we have explored all possible options to avoid closure. However, we have found no realistic chance of significant, long-term helicopter work in the foreseeable future, and we have been unable to find a solution that would make GKN Yeovil a sustainable business.
As a result, we are deeply saddened to announce that we will now proceed to consult on the basis that the site will close at the end of next year (2017).
Consultation with nominated employee representatives will continue, now focused on the appropriate steps towards closure in thirteen months’ time. Every effort will be made to support people throughout this difficult period and, wherever possible, GKN will seek to offer alternative jobs to employees at other UK sites.
Lord Ashdown has responded to the news:
“Even if this news was expected by many, it is sad news and bad news for Yeovil and those affected especially just before Christmas. My heart goes out to them and their families. This is the inevitable consequence of the foolish decisions by this government to give the recent apache order to the United States without even a competitive tender.”
“It is vital now for the Yeovil site and for our communities future prosperity that the Government foes two things: firstly uses the tooling at GKN, which they own, as leverage to insist that this work stays on the Yeovil site and is not allowed to be exported to Italy or anywhere else. Secondly to make it explicitly clear in the forthcoming policy paper on Britain’s industrial strategy that the govern sees Yeovil’s capability to design and construct helicopters on the integrated site in Yeovil as an essential part of the nation’s industrial base.”
“I will continue to lobby pressure the government to do this, along with the local unions and I hope Yeovil’s Member of Parliament, if he is prepared to work with us.”