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More than 200 jobs at risk as Appledore shipyard 'faces closure'

More than 200 jobs are at risk at the 163-year-old shipbuilding site in North Devon. Credit: PA Images

More than 200 jobs are at risk at a shipyard in North Devon because of a shortage of work, a union is warning.

According to reports Appledore dockyard could be closed next month when directors at Babcock International meet for a board meeting in November.

Unite, the largest union for defence workers, has accused the government of a "continual lack of commitment to building ships for the Royal Navy" - claiming it instead prefers to move the construction of ships for the country's naval carrier fleet off-shore.

Appledore recently lost it's contract with Italian shipbuilding company, Fincantieri, sparking even more concern for the future of jobs there.

More than seven thousand people have signed a petition to save the site from closure, and a rally will be held at the end of the month. Credit: ITV West Country

A campaign has been launched by Unite and the GMB Union, which has been signed by more than seven thousand people.

They say: "To see a successful shipyard turn profit year-on-year and then struggle to secure work for this committed workforce is sickening."

Since January, workers at Appledore have been redeployed by Babcock to Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, and are becoming increasingly concerned about their jobs.

The company are reportedly trying to secure other contracts for the dockyard but a Unite Union Convenor, Barry Hooper, says the "mood is tense" and "morale is low".

The unions are also reporting that members and their families could lose their homes if the dockyard closes, forcing them to move out of North Devon to find other work.

As a local resident, I know the effect on local businesses this will have and I fear the decline of the area. The unions will be organising a mass rally in Bideford in support of the yard, and we hope this will be widely supported.

– Heathcliffe Pettifer, Unite the Union Regional Officer

A rally to save the site will be held on 27 October from 10.30am. It will start at Jubilee Square in Bideford.