THE battle to keep Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick received a boost this week with Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tony Greaves calling on the government to take action.

The company is currently planning to move production to Singapore which could result in the loss of 350 jobs.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Greaves appealed to the government to help save the site.

He said: “Do the Government understand that this is a catastrophe for high-tech manufacturing in the UK, for the retention of a skilled workforce, some of whom went to Singapore to help set up there on the promise that it would not affect their own jobs; for the critical mass of the aerospace industry of east Lancashire, with some 22,000-plus workers and four to five times as many ancillary workers; and for the future of the small north-of-England town of Barnoldswick, which locals call Barlick, which was the birthplace of the jet engine and is a genuine centre of engineering excellence?

“Is it not time for the Government to take more action and to take back control?”

In response government minister Lord Callanan said, though the government was offering support to the company, they would not act specifically to prevent the move.

He said: “I totally understand and sympathise with the points that the noble Lord is making, but Rolls-Royce is a global company and it is having to make some very difficult decisions about its footprint everywhere as demand for its products and services has fallen significantly in the current pandemic.

"As I said, we are offering significant support to it and other aerospace companies.”

Speaking after the debate, Lord Greaves said: “The Government may well care about British aerospace production as a whole but they do not seem to care two hoots about the impact on Barnoldswick and East Lancashire. I will continue to raise it with them whenever I can and support the campaign by the local workforce and Unite.”

This comes after workers at the plant voted overwhelmingly for strike action.

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: “The entire town is firmly behind them, Barnoldswick was the birthplace of the jet engine, Rolls-Royce has been the principal employer for nearly 70 years, and they are not prepared to let that disappear without a fight.”

As well as potential strike action, a petition calling on the company to reverse its plans has attracted over 6,800 signatures.

Meanwhile East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has also called on the government to help save the site.

Chief executive Miranda Barker said: “Action is needed now from our Government, levelling up investment and support for the Civil Aerospace sector.

“Act now, don’t let this become the successor to the loss of the shipbuilding industry.

“We are global leaders in this field, help us to stay that way!”