FORD has confirmed that Southampton’s Transit plant is to shut.

Hopes were that closure plans would be crushed this morning during a meeting between trade union bosses meeting and Ford of Europe executives.

They were told the full extent of closures in the UK which will include shutting the Transit factory by next summer.

More than 500 workers at the Swaythling plant were among 1300 in the UK to be cut as the company switches production to elsewhere in Europe.

This brings an end to vehicle production in Britain after 100 years and ends a long decline in the workforce of the plant which has been making Transit vans since 1972.

The site, which opened in 1953, has been operating with only one shift for the past three years as demand declined during the recession.

Last year it only made 26,000 vehicles.

Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams described the announcement as “dreadful”.

He said: “It is yet another kick in teeth for UK and Southampton plc.”

A knock on effect of the closure in Southampton will see the company’s stamping plant in Dagenham in Essex, which supplies parts for Southampton, losing 800 jobs.

Hampshire MPs and industry leaders are now calling for immediate action to save the plant in an echo of the campaign launched in 2008.

This was sparked by a leaked memo about slashing output at the plant, which then employed 1,250, before moving production to Turkey.

A spirited fight to save the plant followed but that did not stem the job losses and decline in production  - and today’s announcement that the Transit van, an iconic British product, will now be made in Turkey after all.


Politicians and business leaders have described the prospect of Ford leaving the city, where it has been producing vehicles since 1953, as “a tragedy.”

Workers at the factory today spoke of their shock at the closure plans.

Canteen assistant Sharon Tillett, 42, from Bursledon, said generations of her family had worked at the plant.

She added: ' I've been here 22 years and it's such a shock.

"I'm just really sad - a lot of my family has worked here, both my grandfathers worked here.

"I think the announcement will be that it's closing."

Another contractor at the factory said that the closure would effect hundreds of sub-contractors, as well as the 500-strong salaried work force.

The worker, who did not want to be named, added: "A lot of people that work here are contractors - at least 600.

"Then there's the impact on British suppliers around the country."

Trade union representatives have been called to the car maker's UK headquarters for a meeting at 10am and an official announcement is expected at 2pm.

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