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Ford's British van factory set to close: reports

Around 500 jobs potentially at stake should the Southampton factory close.

The Ford factory in Southampton today.
The Ford factory in Southampton today.
Image: Chris Ison/PA Wire

FORD IS SET to close a factory in the English city of Southampton with the loss of 500 jobs in the latest European restructuring move after it shut down a plant in Belgium, reports said today.

Union officials said it was a “very worrying time” for the 500 employees at the site on the south coast of England, which has made around 2.2 million Transit vans since 1972.

The workforce has been reduced over the years, as production slumped from 66,000 vehicles in 2008 to 28,000 last year after the plant moved to single shift operation.

The US auto giant will reportedly announce the closure on Thursday, the day after it shut its factory in the Belgian city of Genk with the loss of 4,300 jobs.

Ford has not confirmed or denied the reports about the Southampton plant.

John Denham, who represents Southampton for the opposition Labour party, said it would be “devastating” if the factory shuts.

“Huge numbers of families would be affected. It would also be very bad for the UK motor industry,” he told the BBC.

“Obviously, we hope it’s not true but it would be devastating if it closed, there are hundreds of jobs that depend directly on the plant and many others in the local economy.

“Southampton is the only place that still makes complete Ford vehicles of any type in the UK.”

Ford employs around 11,400 workers in Britain at component plants including Dagenham in Essex in southeast England, Halewood on Merseyside in northwest England and Bridgend in south Wales.

- © AFP, 2012

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