MAY 13, 2019 will not be a date that many of us will look back on with fondness in the months and years to come. But while Honda’s confirmation that it will close its South Marston plant in 2021 is truly devastating for all the workers and supply chain firms, I would urge all those affected to not lose hope.

Swindon has come back from similar blows and it will do so again.

In 1982, British Rail Engineering Ltd announced it would be shedding 1,500 jobs at its 140-year-old plant. And, just three years later, came the huge blow that the railway works would close completely. Few would have predicted the town’s economy would recover, but recover it did.

Our fantastic location and outstanding transport links have made us an attractive proposition for a number of firms and will continue to do so. In fact Honda’ ready-made workforce of over 3,000 talented and skilled staff, coupled with a large and accessible employment site, has led to international interest in Swindon.

During Honda’s recent consultation period, the council has been working closely with the government and other partners to minimise the negative impacts of Honda’s closure and to embrace new opportunities to sustain and grow Swindon’s economy.

As a member of the government-led Honda taskforce I know how much work has been going on behind the scenes and, now we know Honda HQ has confirmed that it will no longer manufacture its cars in the UK past 2021, we will be stepping up our efforts to help those affected.

The council’s chief executive, Susie Kemp, leads the Honda and Supply Chain Co-ordinating Steering Group which has been set up to bring together national and local partners with the aim of supporting the workforce and supply chain.

A number of sub-groups were formed as part of the steering group and each of these will focus on particular areas such as the re-skilling and redeploying of Honda’s workforce. We have already had significant interest from a number of local firms who are keen to take advantage of Honda’s highly-skilled employees.

When Honda opted to cut a significant number of staff a few years ago, the council worked with local firms and partner organisations to help find new jobs for those affected so we have experience of this current scenario, albeit on a smaller scale.

What I can tell workers is that we will be doing everything in our power to attract new firms into our town and to find alternative uses for the site. We have received lots of offers of support from existing firms within Swindon and elsewhere and we would encourage anyone who would like to help those affected to continue to get in touch by emailing

In the meantime, Experts in pastoral care will be helping Honda workers and employees within the supply chain to support the mental wellbeing of the workforce. There is lots of mental health support available in Swindon and our public health team is helping a number of local organisations promote their services as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. See for more.