Page last updated at 18:22 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Royal solidarity with car workers


Princes Charles spoke with North West motor manufacturers and suppliers

The Prince of Wales gave a royal seal of approval to struggling car giant Vauxhall during a visit to its Ellesmere Port plant.

Prince Charles spoke to workers at the General Motors (GM) factory about the pressures on the UK motor industry.

Production is 20% down at the plant, while the UK industry as a whole saw a 59% drop last month.

But workers, who are accepting a drop in pay and hours, said the royal visit proved the site had a future.

There have been no redundancies either at Ellesmere Port or at Vauxhall's other plant in Luton.

The Ellesmere Port factory is to build the next generation Astra from September, with GM insisting its future is safe.

I think if someone from the Royal family visits us, it shows we have a future
Ralf Besenbeck

Vauxhall assembly line worker Paul Misson, a shift manager from Chester, met Prince Charles during his tour.

Mr Misson said: "He was quite interested in the new vehicle we are launching.

"We have just won a green award which the Prince was really interested in."

Ralf Besenbeck, from Mainz, Germany, who is working at Vauxhall in the UK on a project said the visit was "an honour for all of us".

"I think if someone from the Royal family visits us, it shows we have a future."

His co-worker Bob Oldfield added: "I think it was a good visit. This will make people sit-up and see we have a future."

After touring the assembly line, the prince attended a private discussion on the impact of the economic downturn on businesses.

The tour and discussion was part of a day-long visit to the county by the Prince.

Afterwards, he met members of the Blacon Community Trust at its community centre in Chester.

Accompanied by The Duke of Westminster, he later toured Aldford Village on the Duke's Eaton Hall estate, where there are plans for an affordable rural housing scheme.

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