Union members headed to Parliament yesterday (Tuesday) to hand in a 10,000-strong petition to save Appledore Shipyard.

Representatives of GMB and UNITE handing their petition to Save Appledore Shipyard in to Parliament. Picture: Save Appledore ShipyardRepresentatives of GMB and UNITE handing their petition to Save Appledore Shipyard in to Parliament. Picture: Save Appledore Shipyard

GMB and Unite members met MPs from all parties as they handed in the petition to the Ministry of Defence.

This included Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Nia Griffiths, Shadow Secretary of State for BEIS Rebecca Long Bailey, Shadow Minister for Procurement Wayne David and Labour Party Chair, Ian Lavery, as part of the joint campaign to protect the historic yard from closure.

Recent reports suggest a final decision to close Appledore Shipyard could be made by Babcock at a board meeting in November.

GMB and Unite staged a mass rally in Bideford on Saturday to highlight public opposition to closure.

Representatives meeting Geoffrey Cox and Peter Heaton-JonesRepresentatives meeting Geoffrey Cox and Peter Heaton-Jones

Hundreds of people turned out with speakers including the leader of the district council and the mayor of Bideford.

The unions are calling on everyone who supports a future for the yard, and for British shipbuilding and manufacturing in general, to sign the petition.

Matt Roberts, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “GMB representatives from Appledore have sent a clear message today to local MP Geoffrey Cox and the Government, that we fully expect action from both the government and the company to solve this short term problem that is in no way the fault of the skilled, dedicated workforce.

“We really appreciated the time given by the Labour Shadow Secretary of States responsible for Defence and BEIS in hearing our concerns and the wholehearted support they’ve given to keep help Appledore Shipyard open.

“This is now a fight for the future of shipbuilding in Appledore - securing skilled jobs for this generation and the next.”

Representatives of GMB and UNITE handing their petition to Save Appledore Shipyard in to Parliament. Picture: Save Appledore ShipyardRepresentatives of GMB and UNITE handing their petition to Save Appledore Shipyard in to Parliament. Picture: Save Appledore Shipyard

The group also met withy Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox and Peter Heaton Jones, MP for North Devon.

Following the meeting Mr Cox said: “I had a constructive and frank discussion with the representatives of the Yard, many of whom I have met on several occasions in Torridge.

“They have my complete support and, as I told them during our meeting, I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that Babcock commits to keeping the Yard open and keeping its highly skilled workforce intact.

“The Government will do all it reasonably can, but what it cannot do is replace a commitment by Babcock and I will work alongside the Appledore representatives I met today to persuade the company to maintain its operation at the Yard.”