BAE boss agrees to Brough meeting to discuss future of East Yorkshire factory
BAE Brough has historically manufactured Hawk jets
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 6 Feb 2019
The top boss of BAE has agreed to meet with MPs in Brough to discuss future-proofing the aircraft manufacturer’s output in East Yorkshire.
In October 2017, BAE Systems, which operates the Hawk aircraft factory in Brough, announced it would reduce its Humber workforce by almost half, cutting 400 out of 950 jobs by the end of 2019.
The defence technology company announced in September it had secured a contract to supply nine Hawk Advanced Jet aircraft, which will be built in Brough, and 24 Typhoon aircraft to the Qatar Emiri Air Force. However, a spokesman said the order would not put a stop to the East Yorkshire redundancies.
A host of MPs from the region met with the company’s chief executive, Charles Woodburn, in Westminster this week to discuss “diversification” at the manufacturing output at Brough, pushing for more than just Hawk aircrafts to be built at the Humber site.
David Davis MP visiting BAE Brough workers in 2017 after the redundancy announcement
David Davis MP, whose Haltemprice and Howden constituency is home to the factory, and Hull MP Emma Hardy both called on Mr Woodburn to meet them in Brough to discuss securing the future of manufacturing jobs at the historic aerodrome.
Former Cabinet minister Mr Davis said: “It is vital everything possible is done to ensure highly skilled jobs at the site are protected.
"Pleasingly, the Minister for Defence Procurement confirmed the Government is of the same view and is working with BAE to ensure everything possible is done to secure contracts for future orders [of Hawks].
“I, and my colleagues, have agreed with BAE to hold further meetings with their senior management team in order to ensure we secure the long-term future of the Brough site and protect high skilled jobs in East Yorkshire.”
Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, wants manufacturing 'diversification' at Brough to protect jobs
Ms Hardy, whose Hull West and Hessle constituents work at the factory, said MPs wanted BAE to explore “other options” for the factory’s production line.
Labour MP Ms Hardy said: "It feels like we keep delaying the issue all the time by saying, 'If we can just get a few more orders'. But we will still be back at the same problem in a few years time – that there are not enough orders for Hawks.
“We asked about what else could be built in Brough and for BAE to explore other options. BAE are keen for the answer to be: more Hawk orders internationally.
“For MPs, we are keen for that to be part of it but to also have diversification. The CEO agreed to look at other options again once he has visited Brough and had a think.”
According to those present, Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde in Lancashire, asked why the manufacturing of low-emission bus engines, some of which is carried out in the US by BAE, could not be moved to UK factories.
BAE Systems are recruiting for three kinds of apprenticeships (Image: BAE SYSTEMS)
CEO Mr Woodburn is understood to have told MPs the company has already looked into making changes to its Brough output but the focus is now on securing more Hawk orders.
Ministers confirmed to MPs that they are working with BAE chiefs to help secure future Hawk contracts to keep the Brough production line moving. Discussions are known to be going on with Kuwait over possible Hawk orders.
BAE sources said the current recruitment of 70 engineers in Brough and another 30 apprentices starting in September should ease fears over the company’s long-term plans for the site.
Brough has been producing aircraft for more than a century, with the first plane built there in 1916.
A BAE Systems spokesman said: “We maintain regular dialogue with MPs representing constituencies where we employ people across the UK to keep them informed.”
The spokesman said he could not comment on the detail of the meeting.
Others present on Monday, February 5, included Graham Stuart, Trade Minister and MP for Beverley and Holderness, Stuart Andrew, Minister for Defence Procurement, Labour’s shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith and Hull MPs Diana Johnson and Karl Turner.