The future of Luton’s Vauxhall plant looks secure after owners Peugeot SA announced it will move production of its own Vauxhall Vivaro to the facility in 2019 – assuring the livelihoods of nearly 1,500 workers.
The firm has hailed its investment – estimated By UNITE at £170m – as a “major milestone” for the future of the Luton plant, “despite Brexit uncertainties”.
Prime Minister Theresa May has also seized upon the news as evidence of the robustness of UK manufacturing.
She said: “Vauxhall’s decision to invest in the United Kingdom is testament to the world-renowned expertise of the British automotive industry and workforce.
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are investing in the technological developments of tomorrow – ensuring we remain the natural choice for innovative firms to prosper.”
Central Government has also granted a £9m fund to install new manufacturing platform at the plant.
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “This investment in upgrading the production platform will safeguard and grow jobs, ensuring the future of the Luton plant well into the next decade.
“[It will] help ensure the plant is well positioned for future Vauxhall models to be made in the UK.”
As part of its commitment to keep car manufacturing in the town, Luton Borough Council is offering a £3.2m grant to Peugeot SA to help create 200 new jobs as part of the company’s plans.
The council’s package offers Peugeot PSA a range of attractive incentives, including reduced business rates.
To help aid the over 50s and long-term unemployed, LBC will provide a work taster session and will pay 50% of the salary costs for the first year of employment.
Leader of Luton Borough Council, Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE said: “This is wonderful news for the town. In many peoples’ minds Vauxhall and Luton are firmly intertwined.
“The plant has been a key part of Luton’s economy for generations and since PSA acquired it last year we have been working hard to ensure its future.
“We are delighted PSA has confirmed its commitment to the plant. Not only will this secure thousands of jobs but will provide additional opportunities for others.”
The leader of Unite, the country’s biggest union, has hailed the proposed investment into PSA’s Luton van plant as a “deserving tribute to a dedicated workforce”.
However, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey also called upon PSA to remove the cloud hanging over the company’s Ellesmere Port plant too, which is also awaiting a new model.
Mr McCluskey said: “It is great news that this new product should see van production at Luton for the next ten years to come.
“This is a very welcome investment in Luton by PSA, and a deserving tribute to a dedicated workforce. It will steady nerves at the plant after years of uncertainty.”