Appledore Shipyard

1st November 2018

STATEMENT FROM RT HON. GEOFFREY COX QC MP

on Babcock’s announcement of the closure of Appledore Shipyard

“For the past several weeks I have been meeting the Secretary of State for Defence every few days to receive reports from him on the intensive consultations in which the MOD has been engaged both internally and with Babcock with a view to persuading Babcock to keep Appledore Shipyard open and its workforce intact.

As a result of these discussions, the MOD has made significant and substantial offers of assistance to Babcock designed to enable it to support the workforce pending the outcome of its bid for the Royal Navy Type 31e and while it sought further work. These offers included a £60 million package that could have provided additional work for the Appledore workforce. Unfortunately Babcock have not found this sufficient to keep the yard open.

While the Government is willing to do all that it reasonably could to help, what it could not do is replace a firm commitment by Babcock to the Yard.

I recently met Babcock International’s Chief Executive, Archie Bethel to urge the company to commit to the future of the Yard. I pointed out to him its importance to the local communities and the reputational damage it would cause to the company if, for example, the Yard were closed and if the company were subsequently to bid to build the Royal Navy Type 31e Frigate in Rosyth.

I reminded him that I had spent some time meeting Sir John Parker while he was preparing the National Shipbuilding Strategy to lobby for Appledore and that the Shipyard was subsequently cited by Sir John in his Strategy as just the type of Yard that was well equipped to construct those vessels. Successive Secretaries of State had recently visited the Yard and there was a widespread understanding in the Government of its outstanding merits.

I regret that although the CEO said that he would examine the options put forward by the Government, he gave me no unqualified commitment that any of them would persuade him to keep it open. I am dismayed and saddened at their decision today.

It is now disappointingly evident that Babcock lacked a real commitment to Appledore and that, even with the help of the Government, it is not prepared to operate a commercial Shipyard and maintain the proud tradition of shipbuilding on the Torridge.

I shall be meeting the Secretary of State for Defence early next week to hold urgent discussions with him and officials about how the Government might encourage other companies to take over operations at Appledore Shipyard.

This is a bitter blow for the highly skilled workforce, many of whom have been working on the Torridge for decades, and one of my priorities will be to ensure that there is adequate support for them. I will be raising this with the Secretary of State for Business, to discuss how his Department could lend assistance.”

 

Surgery Dates

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Saturday 17th November
Bideford, Torrington
 
Saturday 8th December
Bideford, Torrington