ROLLS-Royce has announced 200 job losses at its two Barnoldswick factories as it cuts 3,000 jobs across the UK.

The loss of more than a quarter of its 730 worker at the two fan-blade factories Bankfield and Ghyll Brow was described as a ‘gut-wrenching blow’ by local Liberal Democrat councillor David Whipp.

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said the redundancies were ‘the tip of the iceberg’ in terms of coronavirus cutbacks to the county’s aerospace industry.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson described the scale of the job losses as ‘devastating’ and borough council leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal warned: “The future of the site is at risk.”

Rolls-Royce made clear no compulsory redundancies had been announced and it was seeking to make the staff reductions through voluntary severance .

The majority of the job losses will be at its Derby headquarters where 1,500 will go and in Renfrewshire, Scotland where 700 will be lost.

Mr Stephenson said: “The news of so many job losses at Rolls Royce Barnoldswick is devastating news. The government has made unprecedented support available and I am deeply disappointed Rolls-Royce management doesn’t seem to be using these schemes more to help protect jobs. I have spoken to Rolls-Royce about diversifying the work at Barnoldswick.

A company spokesman said: “We have opened voluntary severance to all civil aerospace employees in the UK. This is an important step as we resize our business to adapt to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation industry. At Barnoldswick we have indicated that the likely number of impacted roles in 2020 will be around 200.”

Cllr Whipp, who represents the town on Pendle Borough and Lancashire County councils, said: “This a gut-wrenching blow costing almost one-third of the workforce. We need to work together to mitigate the scale of the job losses.”

Ms Barker said: “With the recent 250 job losses at Safran Nacelles in Burnley, this is just the tip of the iceberg for the aerospace sector in East Lancashire. It is responsible for thousands of jobs in the county. This underlines why the government must set up a civil aerospace task force to protect the industry.”

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham said: “The news from Rolls-Royce is devastating.”