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Town’s sadness as historic tyre factory to close after 130 years

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MELKSHAM’S community has reacted with sadness following the announcement that Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe will be phasing out their UK tyre manufacturing plant in Bath Road, Melksham, ready to close in December next year, making 350 members of staff redundant.  

Cooper Tires

The company say the Melksham site has struggled to be competitive for some considerable time and that, “everyone involved has worked extremely hard to keep operations going for as long as possible. However, this has become increasingly challenging in the current business environment.”

Following the announcement on Thursday 13th October, mayor of Melksham, cllr Simon Crundell said, “It is with immense sadness that we have learned of the closure of the Cooper Tires factory in Melksham. The factory has been at the heart of Melksham’s economic and cultural life for many generations, putting Melksham on the map.  

“I will be meeting with representatives in due course to discuss how the 350 employees can best be supported throughout this difficult time, and although this is a sad day for Melksham, my thoughts are with the employees of the factory.” 

Cllr Phil Alford, who represents a Melksham ward on Wiltshire Council said, “It is heartbreaking to hear the decision by Goodyear to close the Melksham Cooper Tires factory. The company has had a deep relationship with our town over the past 130 years and whilst it is now less vital to our town than it was, in the recent past the factory employed well over 10,000 people and was a dominant force in the social and economic fabric of the town.” 

Leader of Wiltshire Council, cllr Richard Clewer said, “Goodyear is about to enter the consultation phase with its staff, and we have met with the company to offer transition support for staff from our economic development and employment and skills teams, subject to the outcome of the consultation. 

“We will also work in partnership with other agencies such as the Local Enterprise Partnership and Department of Work and Pensions to support all affected staff.

“It is disappointing to hear of the decision by Goodyear to close the Melksham Cooper Tires factory. The company has had a deep relationship with our town over the past 130 years and was a dominant force in the social and economic fabric of the town.”

Struggled to be competitive

A statement from Cooper Tires said, “The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe has announced that it is to begin a consultation process on the proposed closure of their tyre production site in Melksham UK by the end of 2023. This consultation will involve 350 Cooper Tire & Rubber employees and relevant employee representative bodies.”

Gavin Champion, HR Director at The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Europe, said: “It is with deep sadness that we have announced our intention to begin a consultation process on the proposed closure of our tyre production facility at Melksham.

“Our Melksham site has struggled to be competitive for some considerable time and everyone involved has worked extremely hard to keep operations going for as long as possible. However, this has become increasingly challenging in the current business environment.

“We would like to confirm that these proposals are subject to consultation with relevant employee representative bodies, and we remain fully committed to act responsibly and fairly, and to provide appropriate support for everyone affected”.

For many people in the town, generations of their family have worked at the company and they have been sharing their memories of the factory and its importance to Melksham. See page 7. 

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