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Unions request interest free loan for Appledore ferry

Trade Unions GMB and Unite have called on the Attorney General to offer an interest free loan to the group behind plans for a new Scillonian ferry at Appledore.

Workers Union GMB said that as South Devon MP and cabinet member, Geoffrey Cox QC is uniquely placed to help save the shipyard.

The comments follow the recent suggestion by community group FRIST that building a new ferry to serve the Isles of Scilly could save Appledore, where the current Scillonian was built. Engineering firm Babcock has confirmed the closure of the north Devon facility, which has 200 employees.

Scilly's MP Derek Thomas recently said that he has been "engaged on the idea for some time".

Read the GMB's statement in full below:

GMB and sister union Unite have called on the Attorney General to back a plan for a new Scilly Isles ferry to be built at Appledore – and save the famous shipyard.

The Appledore Shipbuilders Joint-Union Committee wrote to Geoffrey Cox QC - MP for Torridge and West Devon, which covers Appledore.

Earlier this month Babcock announced they will exit their lease of the shipyard in March, at the cost of almost 200 jobs - despite the devastation this will cause to the community.

Last week, GMB flagged a plan to save the 163 year old shipyard by building the much needed new Scilly isles ferry there.

The letter asks the Attorney General to give Babcock what they need to take on the ferry project – namely an interest free loan to the group behind the ferry and reassurances the work would start soon.

If not, the unions ask the Government to step in and take ownership of the shipyard.

Matt Roberts, GMB Organiser, said: “GMB feels the Scilly Isles plan could be a realistic way to save the shipyard and prevent the devastation its closure will cause to our community.

“As local MP and senior cabinet member – Mr Cox is uniquely placed to help save the shipyard.

“It’s his duty to try everything possible to protect his constituency.

“If the Government can’t give Babcock the assurances the company needs to take this project on, it must step on and take ownership of this historic yard to protect our sovereign shipbuilding capability post-Brexit.”

>> FRIST: ISSG 'not that interested' in Appledore idea


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