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Replacing Trident

Lucy Breakwell
Lucy Breakwell
Political Editor
BBC North West

The town of Barrow-in-Furness lies right at the top of the Furness peninsula bordered by Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea.

Trident at Barrow

Most people would like to see the world get rid of nuclear weapons but for many in the north west, they offer job security. Arif Ansari reports on whether the government will replace Trident.

It is very close to the Lake District but Barrow is perhaps more famous for its submarines.

Which is why the government's announcement of a defence review is met with trepidation in Cumbria.

Falling on hard times

In the 1980's the VSEL shipyard in Barrow employed around 14,000 people.

The main source of work was the Vanguard class - the Royal Navy's current nuclear ballistic missile submarine.

Barrow Shipyard
Barrow Shipyard once employed around 14,000 people

When each submarine was launched almost the whole town would turn out to see it plunge into the dock. Since then the shipyard has fallen on hard times.

A few years ago the workforce dropped to around 4,000. But things are looking up.

Around 5,500 people now work for BAE on the Astute project.

And the latest bit of good news for Barrow is the Trident replacement scheme which would guarantee work until the middle of the 2030's.

'Radical change' in policy

At the beginning of the month the IPPR released a report calling for a radical change in British security and defence policy.

Aircraft Carriers
A report called for cutbacks in defence spending

One of the recommendations was the scaling back of some conventional capability led by cutbacks in planned areas of defence spending costing £24bn.

The report suggests aircraft carriers, the joint strike fighter, Type 45 destroyers and Astute class submarines "should all be in the frame".

It also suggests a review of Trident replacement to see if there are alternatives or if the systems life can be extended.

Voting against Trident

Trident replacement has always been controversial.

In 2007 there was considerable opposition from Labour MPs.

Calls have been made for Trident plans to be postponed

Enough of them voted against Trident to force the government to rely on support from Conservative opposition.

A number of backbench MP's are now calling for any more decisions on Trident to be postponed because of the current economic stability.

'A brighter future' for Barrow

We spoke to John Hutton, the MP for Barrow-in-Furness and former Defence Secretary.

He told us you can not predict the future and we do not know whether or not we will need a nuclear deterrent in 20 years so we have to be prepared.

It is a sentiment echoed by Terry Waiting from Barrow-in-Furness who represents the "Keep Our Town Afloat Group".

He is confident that Barrow's shipyard has a bright future.

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