Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders has revealed he is to meet Business Secretary Greg Clark later today (Monday, March 6) following the announcement of the sale of General Motors.
The French company that owns Peugeot and Citroen, PSA Group, has struck a £1.9bn deal to buy General Motors’ European unit, including the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port.
Labour MP Mr Madders said: “Whilst there has been a lot of media speculation about the future of the plant and the risk to jobs as a result of this merger, it is important to note that we have already had assurances from PSA that existing production runs will be guaranteed which will mean jobs are protected until around 2021.
“This in reality is little different to the position we would have been in had GM remained as owners.
“Now the new owners are in place clearly work must begin in earnest to put UK production in the best possible position.
“There have been significant challenges faced in the past but thanks to great work between the union and management at Ellesmere Port those threats have been overcome so we must draw strength from previous success.
“There is no doubt that we have some of the most efficient plants in Europe so we have a good tale to tell and we should not underestimate the positive impact on sales that having a UK manufacturing base brings.
“There should be no doubt that one of the biggest selling points to UK consumers is that Vauxhall is a British brand that supports British jobs. That is something that I know will be stressed to PSA.
“With the country now facing new trading arrangements after Brexit this is the first test of the Government’s commitment to supporting UK manufacturing in the new world.
“I am meeting Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, later today and will be emphasising to him the need for the Government to commit to doing whatever it takes to protect British jobs.”
He concluded: “I will do whatever I can and expect nothing less from the Government.”
Chester MP Chris Matheson (Lab) has welcomed the uncertainty being lifted for workers at the Vauxhall plant but has sounded a note of caution for the future.
The MP said: "I welcome the fact that the uncertainty has been lifted and we now have clarity about ownership.
"PSA have said that this is an investment but they will need to remember that the Ellesmere Port plant is productive and profitable, the unions and management have worked together to make it a real success and we will be watching carefully to ensure there is no repeat of their actions in Coventry where they closed a profitable plant simply to boost profits."
Meanwhile, Cheshire West and Chester Council is ‘fully committed’ to continued car manufacturing at Ellesmere Port, the council’s leader, Samantha Dixon, said following the announcement.
Cllr Dixon said: “We have offered our assistance to Vauxhall and have written to the Business Secretary to underline the importance of Vauxhall to our residents and to the wider economy.
“The council is fully committed to continued car manufacturing at Ellesmere Port and we are ready to offer any support we can to help sustain the plant’s long-term future.”
David Hanson – MP for Delyn – has written to Greg Clark to urge action to be taken by the Government to secure the future of the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port.
Mr Hanson said: “The car manufacturers at the Ellesmere Port plant produce a quality product and have worked tirelessly to make the plant one of the most efficient in Europe. Hundreds of people who live in North East Wales work at the plant and they need reassurance from both PSA and the Government that the longevity of the plant is secured.
“I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy calling on him to act now.
“We need to know that the Vauxhall plants will have a fruitful future in the UK. That means that Secretary of State needs to promise that tariffs will not be slapped on the vehicles produced following Brexit.
“I will continue to fully support the local MP for Ellesmere Port, Justin Madders MP, as we face this period of uncertainty.”
The Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port is a critical employer for the region according to Colin Brew, chief executive at West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Brew said: “Clearly this is a challenging day for the workforce of over 2,000 at Ellesmere Port GM Vauxhall and for local suppliers who rely heavily on the site.
“Whilst future uncertainty appears to remain the case we are cautiously optimistic with regard to the statement from PSA Group which shows it is deeply committed to continuing to develop Opel/Vauxhall.
“The Ellesmere Port site is a critical employer for the region and as such demands strong attention in the coming months from all key stakeholders including government to ensure its future remains secure.”
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said thousands of Vauxhall workers at Ellesmere Port and Luton had endured a 'nerve-racking' few weeks.
“While initial discussions with the PSA Group have been relatively positive our priority now is to ensure a long-term future for our plants and the tens of thousands of workers depending on them,” he said.
At the Ellesmere Port Development Board, chairman Chris Farrow commented: "The board gives total support to our colleagues, management and staff at Vauxhall, Ellesmere Port.
“Whilst ownership changes, the plan to continue Astra production remains the same. Same as five years ago, there will be a new model challenge. As then we will all work together to meet that challenge."