Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.
When I return from work normally just after 10pm and drive along the A48 I normally have to stop at a set of traffic lights early on the route. From the road to my left cars come out whilst I’m waiting. They’re from the Ford’s Bridgend Engine plant. But from the end of next year that will be a memory as Ford will shut down the plant making 1,700 people redundant. It is, to put it simply, a disaster.
I have chatted about Ford’s plant before in this blog and what I’m going to write are initial thoughts. In the days and weeks and months to come perhaps then I can be rational. But now is not that time. Also I might be repeating things I’ve written about previously here. But no apologies for that. For the fear has become the reality.
If you live in Bridgend (as I did) or work there (as I do) then you are probably one or two steps away from someone who works there. That’s how important the plant is.
So now we face a situation where families are faced with the loss of income skilled highly paid wages brings. Even if those made redundant find another job it’s unlikely to match that of what they had.
As it was put to me. Don’t just think of the people who made the engines. Think about all the others who work there as well. Including (the example given to me) their truck drivers.
“South Wales will become a ghost town” said one man as he was walking into the plant Thursday morning. That’s a debate. But since I’ve blogged about this constantly that may be the effect on Bridgend Town. Already an urban tragedy because of the arrogant incompetence of the local Labour council this is what it did not need. People with less money to spend will consequently spend less and this may cause further shop closures.
So what or who is to blame? Well Brexit is not the only cause. But I would argue that it was the tipping point. After all when announcing redundancies in January Ford did say that the situation would be reviewed if the Brexit situation got worse. And we are where we are…
As for the politicos when the closure rumours began ex First Minister / Bridgend Assembly Member Carwyn Jones and Secretary of State Alun Cairns gave anodyne statements of nothing. Both mentioning that they were in “dialogue” with Ford. Some dialogue.
Since the announcement current First Minister Drakeford has organised a taskforce looking into revitalising the area. It begs the question “Why now”? Surely a taskforce should have been set up from March 2017 when the possibility of the plant’s future being threatened was first brought up? This is shutting the garage door after the V8 powered sports car has bolted.
Preparing for the worst is not the same as wanting something to happen. The apparent lack of preparedness damns Welsh Labour, damns Drakeford and most of all damns Carwyn Jones.
There are “discussions” with new companies to move into the area. And let’s hope they’re successful. Clearly with hindsight having one dominant employer in Bridgend was a mistake.
But for the moment people really should operate on the basis that the glass is half empty. Because, for the moment, that’s what it feels like.
Until the next time.