Decision on Woodford looming

March 24, 2009 9:39 AM

Mark visiting the site at Woodford beside a Nimrod plane

This week Mark Hunter MP for the Cheadle constituency met with senior BAE Systems officials, Mr Bob Keen (Head of Government Relations) and Mr Simon Astley (Director of Parliamentary Relations) in the run up to the Minister's decision on the future of the Nimrod programme.

The meeting followed an earlier one Mr Hunter had with the Government Defence Minister, Quentin Davis, to encourage him to support BAE and the Nimrod Project. During that meeting Mr Hunter, with Liberal Democrat colleague Andrew Stunell MP (Hazel Grove) and Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield), pushed the Minister to commit to ordering three more MRA4 Nimrods (Reconnaissance Aircraft). The MPs also argued that the 'Helix' project should be supported by three further British-made Nimrods rather than the Ministry of Defence buying older planes from the USA.

There are already nine Nimrods being constructed at Woodford, but if the Government does not decide to buying more aircraft from the UK manufacturer the site could face closure and workers living in the local area could lose their jobs. Mr Hunter is in close contact with BAE Systems and Mr Jim Welsh (site general manager) to keep abreast of the developing situation and is increasing pressure on the Minister to pledge to commission the new planes from Woodford.

As the decision by the Minister approaches Mr Hunter said; "BAE are a big employer in the local area, with many people investing years of hard-work and technical expertise in producing high quality military planes which have been used to protect Britain's interests across the globe. The Government shouldn't let these workers down now and should commit to the extra Nimrod production.

"The Minister pledged to visit Woodford before taking any decision to see for himself the site and the impressive work that goes on there. Despite their physical similarity to the old Comet aircraft, the new generation of Nimrods really are state of the art and a remarkable technical achievement.

"If the Government doesn't commit to these new aircraft I fear that our area will lose the highly skilled workforce forever, and suffer a serious knock on affect on our local economy. I will therefore continue to work closely with BAE, as well as the managers and workers at the Woodford site to press the Government to ensure the future of this site."

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