Scarborough councillors have called on the government to encourage more bus building, as a way to safeguard jobs at local manufacturer Plaxton.
On Monday, Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) announced that up to 650 jobs across the UK are at risk, due to a lack of orders during the pandemic.
The company employs 750 people at the Plaxton factory, based in Eastfield.
There has so far been no indication of where the jobs losses could come from.
As well as its Scarborough plant, ADL has a production site in Falkirk, where it employs 850 people and in Guildford, Surrey, where there are 350 workers.
Unite the union and Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill have called on the Government push through a £3 billion scheme to build 4,000 new green buses as a way to safeguard jobs.
Here is the letter he co-wrote with other MPs two weeks ago, before any potential job losses were announced:
"Dear Prime Minister
Creating jobs in the UK bus industry
We are writing as Members of Parliament that collectively have bus manufacturing sites within our constituencies to request that you urgently bring forward the £3bn you have already announced for investment in “at least 4,000 new zero emissions buses”, which will lead to instant job creation opportunities.
Together, Alexander Dennis, Optare and Wrightbus employ thousands of people in skilled, high-quality jobs. They all manufacture zero emission buses (hydrogen electric and battery electric).
We are delighted that in February this year you committed to invest £3bn to introduce at least 4,000 zero emission buses, but we now need this funding to be utilised as soon as possible and in a way that supports job security and creation in our constituencies, and wider across the UK.
Buses are a vital pillar of local communities across the UK, particularly in rural and deprived areas. However, with regular travel significantly reduced and social distancing measures curtailing capacity, the impact of COVID-19 threatens the future of the UK’s bus network. At worst, the current environment could put the industry at risk entirely and confront the Government with the choice between nationalisation or seeing thousands of routes cuts, and jobs lost in manufacturing sites in our constituencies.
The Government must ensure that the bus system has a sustainable future as part of its plans for the UK’s economic recovery. The £3bn already committed for at least 4,000 zero emission buses will be a critical, potentially life-saving, boost for the industry, and will sustain and create thousands of jobs.
We also want to see the Government be technology-neutral in its approach, ensuring a fair split between hydrogen electric and battery electric. As the Transport Secretary has noted, all three UK bus manufacturers make a hydrogen bus and we have stolen a march over international competitors in this technology. Urgent action to support growth in the production of hydrogen buses, such as via 2,000 UK made hydrogen buses as part of the 4,000 you have pledged, will allow costs to decrease and export potential to increase; creating more jobs and economic growth.
We appreciate the many demands on your time, but we urge you to do what you can to ensure the £3bn you have already committed for at least 4,000 zero emissions buses is brought forward as soon as possible.
With best wishes"
Scarborough Council leader Labour’s Cllr Steve Siddons said any job losses could be “devastating” to the borough’s economy.
“Hearing the news about potential job losses at Plaxton is very worrying for the workforce and the town as a whole.
Scarborough desperately needs more skilled well-paid jobs, not less, and I call on the government to assist this business to get through this difficult time.
New high-quality public transport and particularly low carbon vehicles will be essential to deliver a cleaner greener future and Plaxton are well placed to assist that.
Losing any skilled jobs in the borough at this stage could be devastating to our economic recovery.”
The opposition Conservative Group on Scarborough Council has also released a statement urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to act.
A spokesman for the group said:
“News of the potential loss of job losses at Plaxton will have a very significant impact on. Scarborough’s economy which has already been hit hard by the pandemic.
We welcome the cross-party initiative taken by Robert Goodwill as the town’s MP to urge the Prime Minister to encourage the building of buses and coaches for the future.
It will be good for the economy at all levels, for the environment and the growing awareness of having a green economy.
The survival of Plaxton is crucial to helping to achieve those aspirations and to safeguard the jobs of the highly skilled and respected workforce at this nationally renowned coachbuilding company which has played such a major role in the life of Scarborough for so many years.
We urge the Government to support the argument put to the Prime Minister by Robert Goodwill for the coach and bus building industry to be given the same level of support which has been given to many other industries as a result of the pandemic.”
A spokesman for ADL said no decision had been taken on where any job could come from.
“The balance of our UK workforce of 2,300 works at one of our smaller aftermarket sites, or remotely.
The jobs at risk are across all functions at all of our UK facilities.
Unfortunately we are unable to give any additional details ahead of the formal consultation, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks.”
Published by Yorkshire Coast Radio