By Clifford Webb
British Leyland are to close their largest and most modern car painting plant at Trentham, Longbridge, Birmingham, as the £1.5m facility is operating at only one tenth of its installed capacity. It was completed only two years ago to handle up to 4,500 Allegros a week and was intended to play a key role in the production of the first fully integrated car to he built there.
Previously, bodies had been pressed, assembled and painted at Swindon or Castle Bromwich and transported by special double decked road vehicles. But output of the Allegro has never exceeded 2,500 a week and is now believed to have fallen below 2,000. With the demise of the 1800 series, its successor is now assembled at Cowley, the only other model produced at Longbridge is the Mini. Total Longbridge production is now some 5000 cars a week compared with 8,000 a year ago The Trentham Paint shop is handling only 400 Allegros a week and this can easily be switched to two older paint shops.
A British Leyland spokesman said yesterday: “There will be no enforced redundancy as a result of the decision to shut Trentham by October. The 180 employees have been guaranteed other employment.”
British Leyland have asked for 3,100 volunteers for redundancy among the 23000 strong labour force at Longbridge and have received nearly 4,000 applications. There has been criticism of the unduly long time the company is taking to process the applications and this has led to union speculation that further redundancy announcements will be made shortly. In all the group has asked for 7,000 voluntary redundancies.