A new business task force – designed to support staff at a Sudbury firm which will shut in 2020 – has met for the first time to discuss how to mitigate the impact of the layoffs.
The South Suffolk Task Force convened for its inaugural meeting last month, looking at how to deal with the winding down of Delphi Diesel Systems in Newton Road over the next three years, which will result in the loss of 520 jobs.
Delphi announced the closure of the plant this summer, after more than 70 years in Sudbury, citing declining sales of diesel vehicles, which the factory produces components for.
The task force, chaired by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, is now working to help employees find new jobs in the local area, while assessing potential future uses for the site after its closure.
Mr Cartlidge said: “The announcement about Delphi’s closure was a major blow for Sudbury, but I said then what we had to do was look at what could be done to make our town more competitive for the future.
“I am, therefore, very pleased that the task force has met for its inaugural session.
“By bringing the skills and expertise of these individuals and organisations around one table, I am confident that we will be able to find innovative and practical solutions to the issues facing our area.
“I also believe we will be well placed to open up new opportunities for south Suffolk.”
The group, which includes representatives from Suffolk County Council, Babergh District Council, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), New Anglia Growth Hub, Job Centre Plus and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also aims to support businesses across Sudbury, Hadleigh and the rest of south Suffolk.
Chris Starkie, managing director of New Anglia LEP, said: “We’re offering support alongside the assistance being given by Delphi Diesel Systems to staff to help them find alternative employment and make sure we keep these skills in the local area.”
A spokesman for Delphi said that, while it is not currently actively involved in the task force’s discussions, the company fully supported the group’s efforts.
“Over the coming years, we will be providing strong support to help colleagues find new employment, either with other companies or at other Delphi sites,” he said.
“An outplacement company has been engaged to offer individual support and specific training programs.
“Looking further forward, other options will be considered depending on the need.
“For those taking redundancy, the Sudbury site has an agreement that specifies a generous package greater than statutory payments.”
Delphi, which makes diesel fuel injectors and filters for commercial vehicles, says analysis projects a decline in the demand of diesel vehicles.
The company cites figures suggesting the diesel market share in western Europe will drop from 47 per cent now to 24 per cent by 2024.
However, the Unite union has argued against this, claiming the Sudbury plant remains profitable and alternatives for the site have not been explored.