The UK economy has received a major boost with news of a £125 million investment in Vauxhall's car plant, creating thousands of new jobs.
The car giant announced that the next generation of its Astra model will be built at the firm's factory in Ellesmere Port, Merseyside, guaranteeing the future of the plant into the next decade.
Around 700 new jobs will be created at the site, with another 3,000 positions in firms which supply the plant with parts and services.
Vauxhall chairman Duncan Aldred, who first worked at the Ellesmere Port factory 20 years ago as a graduate, said it was a "historic day" for Vauxhall.
The factory will move from two to three shift working to build the new Astra, while "unprecedented" levels of flexibility will be introduced. Confirmation of the investment followed a 94% vote in favour of a new pay and conditions package by the 2,100 workers at the site.
Mr Aldred said: "This is great news for the Ellesmere Port plant, our employees, the local community, our suppliers, the Vauxhall brand and the UK. We have been able to develop a responsible labour agreement that secures the plant's future. This is assisted by the Government's industrial strategy, increasing its focus on the manufacturing sector and creating ideal ground for companies to build up long-term investments."
Ellesmere Port will become one of the most competitive plants in the Vauxhall/Opel manufacturing network. Assembly of the new car is scheduled to start in 2015, with a minimum of 160,000 vehicles to be produced each year.
Vauxhall will also raise the local supply content for the Astra to be built in Ellesmere Port to at least 25% which will create further employment locally and in the UK overall and further increase the plant's competitiveness.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said he was "proud" to be at the factory for the announcement, describing it as a "very great day", and adding: "The car industry in the UK is a great success story. This is a success for team working. We have had business, unions and Government working together in a very productive partnership."
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed the union vote, adding: "This is extremely good news for Ellesmere Port. From a position of uncertainty earlier this year, there is now a potential for a future at the plant until 2020 and beyond, and with that 700 new skilled jobs at Ellesmere Port itself, and possibly hundreds more in the supply chain."