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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Can there be life after trident

POLITICIANS have been challenged to attend a conference to discuss how Barrow could survive without a major shipyard order.

Prospective parliamentary candidates for next year’s general election are being challenged to attend a debate about whether the town can survive without building a new generation of Trident submarines.

It will take place on Wednesday next week and is being staged by the Barrow Peace Council headed by retired teacher Norman Hill.

The Trident successor submarine project should guarantee thousands of shipyard and supplier jobs into the 2030s when the time comes to build up to four subs to replace the existing Vanguard class missile boats.

The main speaker will be Dr Steven Schofield, author of a report published in 2007 called Oceans of Work, which claimed Barrow shipyard could make offshore energy and undersea mining equipment instead of nuclear subs.

Mr Hill said: “Oceans of Work was highly acclaimed by all who supported the need for alternative employment to nuclear armament for manufacturing industries.

“Barrow had all its eggs placed in one basket with building the Vanguard class (Trident missile) submarines in the 1980s and 1990s, and subsequently thousands of jobs were lost at the shipyard with consequences for the future of the local economy at that time. It would appear nothing has been learned and we are going down that same path with the Trident successor programme.”

He said Barrow had no plan “B” if Trident was cancelled and added: “If BAE shuts down the programme here then we would be right up the Swanee economically.”

Mr Hill said the Barrow Peace Council, which is aligned to CND, does not oppose nuclear powered submarines such as Astute.

The debate will propose the yard could build equipment such as robotic submersibles to mine valuable seabed minerals such as magnetite nodules which are important to the production of high quality steel.

The public meeting and debate is at St George’s Hall in Lonsdale Street at 7pm and is titled; “Alternatives for long term, sustainable, well paid employment for Barrow”.

Mr Hill said the meeting was not part of a campaign to scrap Trident. He said: “This is about the economic well being of Barrow.”

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Barrow, John Gough, said he hoped to attend the meeting.

He said: “I am very much on the record as saying we support the Trident replacement and we will build the submarines in Barrow. I think they are an essential part of our defence posture. But I am more than happy to go along and listen, although I am sure they will not be surprised by what I say.”

The Labour parliamentary candidate John Woodcock said: “I am not sure whether I am going to attend. It is good that people look at ways we can diversify. the Furness economy in the years and decades ahead,

“However, I think a new generation of submarines for the shipyard has got to be a bedrock foundation.”

Have your say

The Barrow yard is, area-wise, one of the largest in Europe and, in my opinion, should have diversified into fabrication for the offshore oil & gas sector when that industry was in its infancy. The over-dependence on MoD contracts was one of the main reason I bailed out as soon as I'd finished my apprenticeship.

Posted by Neil on 1 December 2009 at 14:27

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