Fears rise for car plant after production of next model is moved to Germany

Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port

Concerns have been raised over the future of the Vauxhall car plant in Ellesmere Port after its owners announced the next version of the Astra will not be built there, but in Germany instead.

The Rüsselsheim plant, which shares Astra production with Ellesmere Port, has been awarded the next variant of the model, which has traditionally been built at the Cheshire plant for sale in the UK and for export in the European markets badged as Opel.

Ellesmere Port is now in limbo, waiting to see what owner PSA Group has in store for the site and its 1,000-strong workforce.

PSA said last June that the future of the plant would depend on what kind of Brexit deal the UK can strike with the European Union after Britain leaves the EU at the end of this month.

Workers were reassured that the plant’s immediate future was safe last month when PSA agreed a £30bn merger deal with Fiat Chrysler in a move that will create the world’s fourth largest car manufacturer.

The merger included an announcement confirming that there would be no plant closures as a result of the deal.

However, following news that the next Astra estate model has been awarded to Rüsselsheim, Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders has called on the Government to do all it can to protect car workers’ jobs.

He said: “It is clear that the priority now is for the Government to unambiguously state that they will not allow future trading arrangements with the EU to adversely affect manufacturing and the automotive sector more generally.

“If the final arrangements do put up barriers to trade, then the Government should confirm now that in those circumstances they will ensure that sufficient mitigation is put in place so that no jobs are lost.”

PSA Group said: “The allocation of a new vehicle to Ellesmere Port continues to be contingent on the terms of the future trading relationship between the UK and the European Union and ensuring that Groupe PSA can make a profitable investment.”

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