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Revised – Calls For Talks Over Redundancies Planned At Dennis Bus Factory

Published on: 24 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 3 Sep, 2020

The Guildford Dragon NEWS asked local politicians for reactions to plans by bus- and coach-maker Alexander Dennis in Slyfield to make 200 of their estimated 240 staff redundant, threatening an end to bus production here, and what the government or council should or could do.

Revised with a statement from Guildford MP Angela Richardson and comments from the deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council, Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch).

Zoe Franklin, the Guildford Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Parliamentary matters, said: “The news has come as a shock to the people of Guildford. The Dennis brand is hugely significant for our town in terms of employment and historically.

Zoe Franklin.

“Founded in 1895, for much of the 20th century Dennis Brothers was Guildford’s main employer. Today, their Slyfield factory employs hundreds of skilled manufacturing workers and is at the forefront of the green transport revolution.

“More significantly, these potential job losses come at a time when so many local people are anxious about the future. I am very worried about the impact news of redundancies will have on Dennis staff and their families, particularly those made redundant after the consultation. We simply cannot afford to lose these local skilled manufacturing jobs.

“I understand there have been calls for the government to bring forward a promised order of 4,000 low-emission buses to help the industry to recover from Covid-19, conditional on jobs being retained. In these difficult times it is crucial that manufacturer such as Alexander Dennis are encouraged to retain their UK sites and skilled jobs are maintained.

“My Lib Dem colleagues on Guildford Borough Council are planning to speak to Alexander Dennis about this decision and what, if anything, can be done about it.”

A spokesperson from the Guildford Labour Party (GLP) said: “It is absolutely tragic to hear that Alexander Dennis, a company with such a long history in Guildford, is making most of its employees redundant. But Dennis is also very much part of the present, and should be playing a central role in building the new electric buses the country needs.

Brian Creese

“If, as the company claims, Dennis is being squeezed out of business because of this serious but temporary coronavirus crisis, then clearly the government needs to do more. Britain needs to build its manufacturing base, not abandon it.”

GLP chair Brian Creese added: “Guildford needs these jobs. Making 200 local people redundant adds to the benefits bill while losing the skills built up over the years.

“In June, there were almost 37,000 people in the town on universal credit, a rise of 148% since March. Surely it is better to spend money on helping to keep employees in work rather than subsidising unemployment?”

Cllr Nigel Manning

Nigel Manning, leader of the Conservative Group on Guildford Borough Council, said: “It is very disappointing to hear the news of redundancies at Dennis’s. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing many businesses to make some difficult decisions across the country.

“I can only hope that this is a temporary situation and that when life returns back to a more recognised normal, the demand for public transport will return and production will increase.

“I do not believe bus manufacturing will permanently end in Guildford, as the quality of the product that Alexander Dennis produces is well known and when demand returns, they will be first in line to receive new orders.”

Responses from Conservative MP Angela Richardson and borough councillors from R4GV, Conservative “Independent” and the Green Party had not arrived by time of publication.

Revised:

Angela Richardson, MP for Guildford, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many people across the country, working in various industries, losing their jobs. Sadly, this unprecedented situation may affect many Guildford residents employed by Alexander Dennis Ltd.

“I have had discussions with representatives from the company, who updated me on the impact this crisis has had on the business. I have also received correspondence from constituents who are worried about their jobs and their livelihoods.

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to look at what support is available to secure bus-building jobs nationally and in Guildford.

“I have been assured by Ministers in the past that green buses will form an integral part of our recovery from Covid-19 and look forward to receiving a reply as to what can be done to make sure that Guildford can play a role in this green recovery.

“I will continue to monitor the situation, support my constituents, and liaise with Alexander Dennis Ltd and Government departments.”

The full statement from Mrs Richardson can be found here.

Deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council, Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), said: “This is very unwelcome news, all job losses resulting from the economic uncertainty we are facing are an unfolding tragedy for our borough.

“Alexander Dennis is particularly sensitive because of the long history they have here in Guildford, but in truth, with the company now owned by the Canadian NFI Group, that local tie has been steadily eroded.

“If there is a way for GBC to get involved and help save some of these jobs, we stand ready, just as we are ready to support those affected by these planned job cuts.

“This sad situation should be a reminder that we need to support our local businesses.  It really is a case of ‘use them or lose them’. Many companies are facing existential risk with central government support gradually being withdrawn.

“We can make a positive contribution by spending local that may help them survive this crisis.”

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test 4 Responses to Revised – Calls For Talks Over Redundancies Planned At Dennis Bus Factory

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 9:19 am

    Better 200 jobs down now and a rebuild a year later rather than keep these 200 jobs and close down completely in six months.

  2. Andy Clapham Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Better still to provide some limited public support and retain the jobs and skills.

  3. Sue Hackman Reply

    August 24, 2020 at 9:23 am

    The factory and the jobs are not being hibernated: they are due to go to Germany or Turkey.

    Here are the fruits of Brexit! Our jobs are going abroad.

    Sue Hackman is the campaign manager for the Guildford Labour Party.

  4. John Perkins Reply

    August 25, 2020 at 11:50 am

    No jobs are going to Germany.

    Turkey is not, never has been and probably never will be, a member of the EU.

    Jobs are going to Turkey because the Canadian management believe they can save money that way.

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