THE chairman of an engineering firm believes skilled Honda workers will be in demand when the plant closes.

Iain Harris of Cavendish Continental Engineering, which restores historic cars and aircraft, told the Advertiser said the confirmation yesterday was a terrible blow for the area.

But he offered some comfort to staff facing redundancy. "There are people at Honda I am quite sure - engineering qualified people - who would probably be a great asset to other companies."

That included his firm, which wanted to expand and was struggling to find engineers with the right skills.

"We are desperate for staff. We have five people and we need 25. We have £8 to £9m of work on the floor at the moment," he said.

The company, based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire has restored classic British sports cars including Bristol and Healey makes.

Mr Harris said could understand the reason because the motor industry had got itself in a mess over the issue of electric cars.

But he was puzzled over why the company, having spent so many years in Swindon, was not using the British expertise it had benefitted from, to re-design the whole system.

He felt the industry should have been looking into the possibilities presented by hydrogen and nitrogen rather than concentrating on cars powered by electricity, especially when the range of electric vehicles was limited.