Press Report : JLR’s Halewood plant under threat of closure?
Ray Massey, Daily Mail, 11th July, 2009
Jaguar’s Merseyside factory could be closed – with the loss of 2,000 jobs – in order to secure the future of the car maker as a whole. Its Indian parent company, TATA, has earmarked the Halewood factory in the North-West for the axe if its financial problems continue, the Daily Mail has learned.
Under contingency plans being drawn up, the Halewood plant would be sacrificed to save the firm’s two other factories – the Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham, which builds Jaguars, and the Land Rover factory in Solihull. The move follows ‘deep frustration’ at the Government’s apparent lack of concern over the company’s plight.
It would be a major political embarrassment for Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and the Labour Government in the run-up to a General Election, which must be held by June next year. It would also be a bitter personal blow to Tony Woodley, the Merseyside-born General Secretary of the giant transport union Unite, who led the campaign to save the plant from closure in the 1990s. The details emerged as Jaguar launched its stunning new flagship XJ saloon on Thursday.
The award-winning Halewood factory employs 2,000 people and currently builds the ageing and soon to be dropped X-Type Jaguar, and the Land Rover Freelander.
We’re approaching crunch time. The Government doesn’t seem to care. Ministers are sitting on their hands doing nothing. So there a sense in India that a major plant closure may be the only option left.” A senior source at Tata Motors Limited
In April, the European Investment Bank gave the go-ahead for a £340million loan to Jaguar Land Rover to invest in new petrol electric hybrid technology for its cars, including the ‘baby’ Range Rover LRX. The company also received a £27million grant specifically for the LRX which, although earmarked for Halewood, might never be built there.
The company said that Jaguar Land Rover might also need to borrow ‘something like £500million’ from the Government in the form of credit guarantees to complete its major technology projects and finish development of new models.
One senior source told the Daily Mail: ‘We’re approaching crunch time. The Government doesn’t seem to care. Ministers are sitting on their hands doing nothing. So there a sense in India that a major plant closure may be the only option left.’
[Source: Daily Mail]