Closure of Honda's Swindon plant is 'devastating blow', says Bishop of Bristol

(Photo: Unsplash/Chris Liverani)

The Bishop of Bristol has promised the support of churches to people affected by the closure of Honda's Swindon plant. 

Honda confirmed on Thursday that it plans to close its only British plant in 2021, wiping out some 3,500 jobs. 

Bishop Vivienne Faull said the news was a 'devastating blow' for the town as she said that churches would be working together to provide practical assistance to those affected. 

'The decision by Honda to close its Swindon operations is a devastating blow for the town,' she said.

'We think of not just the thousands of people in the area who face the prospect of redundancy, but also the thousands of others who will be affected by the plant's closure.

'At this time, the church communities are sitting alongside those people that they know and love, offering them a place to reflect and to come to terms with the news. Our church leaders also want to offer practical support as well and will be looking for ways that they can be a resource for the on-going discussions that will need to happen now.

'Swindon is a vibrant place with communities which are increasingly working together for the good of everyone. I have no doubt that the people of Swindon will demonstrate their strength and resilience at this time, as they stand alongside all those who are anxious for the future.' 

Business Secretary Greg Clark admitted in a statement that the closure was 'a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK'. 

'This news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain,' he said. 

Mr Clark said a local taskforce of MPs, trade union reps, civic and business leaders was being convened to help the workforce find new jobs. 

'The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transition to new technology. The UK is one of the leaders in the development of these technologies and so it is deeply disappointing that this decision has been taken now,' he added. 

The head of Honda's Europe operations, Ian Howells, said the closure had been driven by 'unprecedented' changes in the car industry, including the switch to electric cars.