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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Yard secures government help
Appledore Shipyard
The 40m contract could safeguard jobs for the next 18 months
A troubled Devon shipyard has been offered help by the government.

Appledore Shipbuilders in north Devon had been awaiting a decision on whether the government would guarantee a loan which would allow it to sign a 40m contract.

The Department of Trade and Industry now says it is prepared to guarantee part of the loan.

But the guarantee is not as extensive as the yard was hoping for and managers are considering the offer.

Appledore's workforce of nearly 500 has been on a three-day week for some time.

About 99 staff are also facing redundancy, meaning the contract would safeguard jobs for the next 18 months.

We have got a lot of what we asked for from the government and that help is going to be absolutely vital to the continuation of the yard
John Burnett MP

Work at the yard has dried up and the company is depending on the 40m contract to build a platform barge for wind turbines for an offshore wind farm in the Bristol Channel.

The loan guarantee is how much the company ordering the vessel can borrow against its value when it is actually built.

That affects the amount of money that can be raised by a government-owned lender to pay for the work.

Greatly encouraged

Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrat MP John Burnett said he was greatly encouraged by his meeting with Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, Jacqui Smith.

"I am a lot more optimistic since the meeting than I was before.

"The minister has only had two weeks in her new job, but she really got to grips with, and understood, a very difficult and complex commercial transaction.

"She was very positive and helpful and she does really understand how important time is."

Absolutely vital

Mr Burnett said a loan guarantee was in place, but there were still one or two points to iron out.

"I hope that, in 10 days' time, we will have a solution," he said.

"We have got a lot of what we asked for from the government and that help is going to be absolutely vital to the continuation of the yard.

"If we land this contract, it will give the shipyard work for 18 months and tied us over a very, very difficult period.

"It is not just a UK problem, but one that is worldwide.

"There are very, very few orders for ships at the moment."




SEE ALSO:
New delay for shipyard
11 Jun 03  |  Devon
Workers put on three-day week
30 May 03  |  Devon
Blair backs shipyard
30 Apr 03  |  Devon
Jobs axed at shipyard
25 Mar 03  |  England


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