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Tuesday, January 6, 1998 Published at 15:17 GMT


Why Jaguar's roar is good for Merseyside
image: [ The Halewood plant, where the new Jaguar is to be produced ]
The Halewood plant, where the new Jaguar is to be produced

Confirmation that the new 'baby Jaguar' will be built at Ford's Halewood plant on Merseyside is being hailed as a huge boost for the factory, which a year ago seemed likely to close.

Ian McAlister, Chairman of Ford UK: "We will double-shift the plant" (Dur: 0' 29")
In 1997, the company made more than 1,000 people redundant at Halewood and the plant lost out to Spanish and Germany rivals in building the replacement for the Escort.

Job losses, reducing the site to a single shift, were the first signs of closure and local MPs joined union leaders and councillors in a campaign to rejeuvenate Halewood as a major car producer.

Production of the new Jaguar X400 will guarantee the future of the Halewood plant, safeguarding 4,500 jobs there, and creating hundreds of new ones.

[ image: The site of the new business park near Halewood]
The site of the new business park near Halewood
A new business park is being built aimed at attracting more car manufacturers to the area.

Chris Clifford, the Regional Director of the CBI, said the announcement was good news for Merseyside.

"It will be a sign of confidence in the northwest economy and the people of the region, safeguarding 1,800 jobs," he said.

"Major investment always has a good impact on the local economy, in terms of wealth creation and increased spending power and also for suppliers."

"If everything goes ahead it will be most welcome news and a much needed boost to the Merseyside economy and the people of Halewood."

The Labour MP for Knowsley South, Eddie O'Hara, whose constituency includes the 35-year-old assembly plant, played a significant role in the campaign to keep Halewood operational on a large scale.

He said confirmation of the decision to build the new model there secures Halewood's future in car making into the new Millennium and "as far as you can predict in the industry.

"Workers and management at Halewood have made a tremendous effort to put the past behind them and make the plant cost effective, that in quality terms, could rival any other."

Liverpool Riverside MP, Louise Ellman, welcomed the announcement and emphasised the importance of building on the success.

"It is essential that we now build on this achievement to maintain the excellent skills base and to maximise opportunities for jobs in the supporting companies," the Labour MP said.

[ image: Strike action at the plant]
Strike action at the plant
The Halewood factory, built in 1963 gained an unenviable reputation for strikes, militancy and low productivity in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, workers and the people of Merseyside are celebrating the news that gives them security for the foreseeable future.


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