Liberal Democrat Motion to NDC – By Lib Dem Group Leader of NDC, Cllr David Worden, Seconded by Cllr Ian Roome
“This council regards the decision to close Appledore Ship Yard as a hammer blow to the economy of Northern Devon and calls on the Government and Babcock’s to investigate ways to see if this decision can be changed. Furthermore this council requests that the Government reverses its decision to close RMB Chivenor and instead looks to enhance its capacity by bringing 45 Commando from Scotland and 40 Commando from Norton Manor, Taunton to North Devon. The closure of both Appledore Ship Yard and RMB Chivenor would have a devastating impact on businesses, schools and public services and this council calls on the Government to face up to their responsibilities toward areas like North Devon where wages are already low and many residents are struggling financially.”
I understand that Appledore Ship Yard has been operating for well over 150 years providing badly needed employment in a low wage area. Its closure is not just regrettable but a devastating blow to the economy of Northern Devon. I know that the government needs more frigates to patrol our waters and perhaps Appledore would have been the ideal place for them to be built. The GMB union is suggesting that the ferry which goes to the Scilly Isles is now 41 years old and a replacement is needed. As the original was built at Appledore, a new one built there would be ideal and keep the yard open. Some are blaming the government for allowing foreign shipyards to build our ships, others Babcock for taking the decision to concentrate on its Devonport location. Who gets the blame for the closure isn’t really the issue. My concern even at this very late stage is to express our support as a council for anyone who is still trying to reverse this decision and see if it is possible to keep Appledore open. The situation looks bleak but I believe as a Council we should be supporting those who have been working at the shipyard, hence my motion.
Moreover if Chivenor were also to close the double impact on North Devon’s economy would be absolutely devastating. It has been said that RMB Chivenor brings an estimated annual £40 million into our economy. Rumour has it that Chivenor has been saved because the MOD recognises that Plymouth hasn’t the capacity to take all the personnel that was originally proposed should go there without a lot of money being spent. RMB Chivenor is the ideal place for the base and in my opinion should be expanded rather than closed. If the government wants to save money it makes more sense to enhance its capacity by bringing 45 Commando from Scotland and 40 Commando from Norton Manor, Taunton to Chivenor. Two years ago this council supported a motion which I brought to fight the closure of Chivenor. Let’s now take the next step to ensure the future of Chivenor for the foreseeable future by campaigning for its expansion. After all North Devon is a beautiful part of the UK but desperately needs a boost to the economy as many people are already struggling financially."