Bridgend 'hanging on by its fingernails' without Ford

Workers at the factory gate Image copyright Jacob King/PA Wire
Image caption Workers were sent home on Thursday and production was stopped until Monday

Thousands of jobs across south Wales could be affected by the closure of Ford's plant in Bridgend.

The engine plant will close in autumn 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

However the knock-on effects are set to be felt within the town that is "hanging on by its fingernails" - as well as by businesses that supply and service the factory.

Economy minister Ken Skates said the plant had been worth £3bn to the local economy over the last 10 years.

Union bosses said the closure was a "dark day" for Wales and fear thousands of additional job losses outside of Ford.

Image caption Matt Barker said other companies rely on Ford for work

One container company based opposite the Ford site, BakerCorp, said the closure would have a "terrible knock-on effect" on companies across the region.

"There are a number of suppliers in this industrial estate who rely on Ford for work. It's very disappointing news," said branch manager Matt Barker.

Another Bridgend company which provides services to Ford was already counting the cost.

"It will definitely affect our business, but we have to look forwards not backwards," a company director said.

"Our industry is being decimated UK-wide - it's a sad state of affairs."

Ford Bridgend

In numbers

  • 1,700workers

  • £3.3bnvalue to Welsh economy over 10 years

  • £140mWelsh Government support

  • £45,000average annual salary

Source: Welsh Government/Unite

The Unite union said the factory was fundamental to the future success of the Welsh economy.

"Its closure [will] lead to thousands of additional job losses outside of Ford," said regional secretary Peter Hughes.

"It's devastating to the communities - the local pubs and clubs and shops that will also be hit because of this."

The aftershocks from this blow are likely to ripple out far and wide.

As well as those companies on the supply chain, many more small local businesses benefit from a well-paid workforce and their families.

Image caption Elizabeth Hubbard said the entire town will be affected by the closure

Among those is Phil Lewis, who owns a cafe close to the plant where many workers stop for food before and after their shifts.

He said the closure will be "terrible" for the community.

"The plant has been a major employer in the area for nearly 40 years and the local economy relies on it," he said.

"Losing it will be absolutely devastating for the workers, the surrounding businesses and satellite businesses that will be affected.

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Media captionFour decades of manufacturing axed

"I'm finding it tough and this will makes things even harder. The local economy is already very fragile and a blow like this would be devastating."

Resident Elizabeth Hubbard said: "These people will not be able to get work locally, it is a tragedy, I feel really sorry for them.

"I do not know what will come of the area - they are one of the biggest employers, the whole town is hanging on by its fingernails. This is hugely significant to everyone."

Barber Michael Hanlon opened in the town mainly for work from Sony and Ford employees. But he feels like both main employers are now gone.

He said: "It's devastating. It's going to destroy our town, definitely," he said.

"It is the knock-on. It is not just the workers, there is the supply chain."

Image caption Steve Bletsoe said traders expect to be affected by the closure

Trader Steve Bletsoe called on locals to rally around those who have lost their job.

He said: "It is going to mean that people in the town potentially have less money to spend here. I know that's a cliche, but it's a reality.

"I wouldn't want to wake up this morning thinking a job I've had for 25 years is on the wane - it's awful."

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