VITAL skills and jobs will be retained in Fylde following a crucial vote by BAE Systems workers last week.

The poll, held at the Winter Gardens last Monday saw employees vote in favour of a union led initiative which will now see BAE workers take up to one day’s voluntary leave a month for up to two years.

The plan, supported by both BAE workers and management will not have been an easy decision for many of those involved.  This is hardly a time for celebration.

However, I do see it as a positive move that will help mitigate more than 80 job losses at the site. 

I believe credit must be given to the workforce, the unions and BAE Systems management, for taking this bold and imaginative step.  

All parties have been working together on this decision, and I believe it represents exactly the kind of commonsense solution that must be welcomed in this tough economic climate. 

For my part I will, of course, continue to work with the unions who have been exemplary in their handling of the matter.

I cannot let the week go by without mentioning the tragic death of St Annes soldier, Sgt Nigel Coupe, of the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

I was terribly saddened to hear of the tragic loss of another Fylde soldier in Afghanistan, as I’m sure everyone from across the area, and indeed the country, will have been.

We, of course, lost 28-year-old Cpl Loren Marlton-Thomas of 33 Engineer Regiment, an IED disposal expert, in 2009.

Sgt Coupe, who was 33 and had two children, was described by his commanding officer as “an outstanding  soldier who epitomised all that a sergeant from The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment should be,” and by his family as: “a loving grandson, son, husband and daddy who doted on his two little princesses.”

He leaves behind his beloved wife, Natalie and two children, Ella and Jasmine, mother Elaine, father Alan, sister Linda and grandfather Roy.

I hope, like me, you will remember them in your thoughts and prayers.


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