Major firm to close Preston site affecting 180 jobs

The Alstom site on Strand Road
The Alstom site on Strand Road

Almost 200 workers are facing an uncertain future after a multi-national firm announced plans to leave its Preston site.

Major transport services and vehicle supplier Alstom will vacate its current base on Strand Road, close to Preston docks.

The firm is moving to a new unit in Widnes, affecting 180 jobs.

Workers' union Unite is in negotiations with Alstom representatives regarding job transfers, the Lancashire Post understands.

The historic factory building was opened as Dick Kerr & Co in 1897.

A spokesman for Alstom said the firm is a tenant of the building and they plan to vacate by July 2018.

They added: “Alstom has recently opened its new Transport Technology Centre in Widnes in the Liverpool City Region. This site is the natural home for Alstom’s increasingly digitally focussed business and as a result we plan to centralise our technologies and capabilities in this new world class facility - increasing our productivity and competitiveness.

“This will mean leaving the Victorian Preston site by July 2018. Consultation is ongoing with the Trades Union and staff and it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

Preston MP Mark Hendrick said he has requested a meeting with the company to discuss the future for the workers who are not willing to transfer to Widnes.

He raised the issue at Prime Ministers' Questions on Wednesday and said it was a major blow coming so soon after the decision to cut jobs at BAE systems in Lancashire.

His question reads: "In the past fortnight, we have heard the announcement of the loss of many hundreds of jobs in Lancashire at BAE Systems sites at Warton and Samlesbury, which comes as a hammer blow to workers and their families.

"Today, I want to raise the proposed closure of the Alstom factory on Strand Road in Preston, which will mean the loss of another 180 jobs. We keep hearing hype about the so-called northern powerhouse, so why are aerospace companies and train manufacturers in the north shedding jobs by the hundred?"

Theresa May responded: "I recognise that this is a worrying time for the workers involved. We will obviously ensure through the Department for Work and Pensions that they have the support they need to look for new jobs, and that does include the rapid response service, which gives particular support to people in these areas.

"However, in relation to the decision by BAE Systems, for example, I can assure the House that we will continue to promote our world-leading defence industry, and I hope that all Labour Members will continue to promote our world-leading defence industry.

"I am very pleased that just last month my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence signed a statement of intent with Qatar, committing it to the purchase of 24 Typhoons and six Hawks from BAE. Last year, the Ministry of Defence spent £3.7 billion with BAE and is working with it to maximise export opportunities for Typhoons and Hawks in the future to ensure that we can retain jobs here in the United Kingdom."