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Ford Factory in Bridgend to be Closed

In a devastating blow to the economy of South Wales, Ford has announced that its Bridgend plant will close in September 2020 with the loss of over 1,700 jobs. The company has operated its successful plant in the region since 1978, and currently employs almost 2,000 people on an average salary of around £45,000. 

In addition to the obvious impact on local families and the workforce, the closure is also seen as a terrible blow to the regional economy and finances. The plant has seen investment from the Welsh government of approximately 140 million pounds over the past forty years, with a return of some 3.3 billion pounds in economic growth and spending as a result in the past decade alone. 

Many workers are set to be offered redeployment and the job losses are expected to occur in a phased manner over the forthcoming year. The Welsh plant was a major producer of engines for Ford, but with a huge upheaval in the industry as a result of less demand for diesel vehicles and a requirement to switch to the production of electric vehicles, the plant’s future was deemed to be unsustainable on its current model. 

Despite the obvious concerns around Brexit, spokespersons for the company have denied this is the main reason, though clearly it cannot help matters; the changing nature of the motor trade is cited as the predominant factor, with a huge scale back in production of Ford’s “Dragon” petrol engine, a major feature in its more recent new and used cars.

Changes have been mooted since 2008, when Ford took the decision to rationalise its business models worldwide, meaning that the need for dedicated UK production facilities was lessened. A further factor was the loss of the lucrative contract with Jaguar Land Rover, which funded hundreds of jobs.

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The loss of so many highly paying and highly skilled jobs is a massive issue for the local economy, the wider region and comes at a time when the Welsh economy is struggling under various firms relocating or cancelling projects across the area. A huge proportion of families in Bridgend are set to be affected, either by the loss of the jobs, a decline in spending in the local economy or having to relocate to find new work.

While there isn’t any obvious impact for the drivers of Ford cars, other than changes to insurance policy premiums and less vehicles in the marketplace, this is a huge sign that the motor giant is facing increasing pressure in a changing industry.

This is the latest in a series of awful blows to the UK car manufacturing industry; Japanese manufacturer Nissan has already announced redundancies in Sunderland, while other Land Rover and Ford plants have been singled out for job losses or funding cuts.

Clearly the changing nature of the business is set to have further effects in the coming months and years.