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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 06:45 GMT
End of an era for Vauxhall
Paint shop at Vauxhall works
Production is ending in Luton after nearly 100 years
The last Vauxhall Vectra will roll off the car manufacturer's production line in Luton this week.

The factory will stop building cars from Thursday, almost 100 years after it opened when Vauxhall moved to the town from a small plant in south London.

About 1,900 jobs will be lost by Vauxhall's decision to stop building cars in the Bedfordshire town because of an expected fall in demand for vehicles in the Vectra market.

The future of the huge site at Luton is still uncertain with Vauxhall stressing all options remained open.

Shareholder value

Transport and General Workers Union national official Tony Woodley said the mood in the plant was one of anger.

"A modern, productive, efficient, profitable car plant is closing - when by any measure it should have stayed open," he said.

Early Vauxhall
A decoy lorry leaves the works during wartime

"It is being sacrificed for no good reason other than trying to increase shareholder value.

"If outrages like this are to be stopped in the future, governments have got to play a more pro-active role to stop it happening."

The last car to be built, a metallic silver Vectra, will join a heritage collection of Vauxhall vehicles at a centre in Luton.

About 1,000 workers have transferred to the nearby IBC van plant, which is owned by Vauxhall's parent firm, General Motors.

A total of 7,415,045 cars will have been built at Luton when the final vehicle is completed.

'Astonishing' pride

Vauxhall managing director Kevin Wale has written an open letter to workers, praising their "astonishing" sense of pride and professionalism.

It stated: "All these qualities are not lost, they continue in all our other operations throughout the local area."

Vauxhall is investing 200m in its Ellesmere Port plant to build the Astra and the New Vectra alongside each other.

The Luton closure comes just a few weeks after the ending of car production at the Ford plant in Dagenham, Essex.

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See also:

12 Dec 00 | Business
Vauxhall to close UK car plant
03 May 00 | Business
Vauxhall creates 500 jobs
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