A FORMER mayor of Swindon says the council is not doing enough to help Honda workers who are due to be laid off in a year.

But council bosses say staff at the car manufacturer and companies that supply it are being supported in different ways, including to start their own businesses.

At Swindon Borough Council’s scrutiny meeting Kevin Parry, whose term as mayor ended in May, said: “I’m an employee of Honda. I’m concerned about what’s being doing to help staff there who will be laid off.

“As far as I can see it’s very little. We are seeing very little or no support for the staff at all.

“There are some basic English and maths classes and that’s about it.

“The council put aside £200,000 to support workers when the closure of the plant was announced and I think it should be spending some of it to help the people who work there and in the supply chain. There are thousands of people in the area.”

Council leader David Renard said the authority’s officers and senior members were working with the Japanese car manufacturer, but a lot of what was going on was confidential.

He said: “There are steering groups chaired by the chief executive, but it’s difficult to say what is being done because it’s Honda’s business, it’s their site and members of the steering group have signed a non-disclosure agreement. But there is a lot of work being done.”

Coun Parry said he was concerned more about what the council was doing rather than the car company, adding: ”Honda is closing the plant and moving on. It’s what is being done to support the staff who are left when it goes, what are we doing at the council? I can see precious little.”

The council’s chief executive Susie Kemp, who chairs one of the committees set up in the wake of the car company’s announcement of the plant’s closure last year, said: “It doesn’t chime – what I know is happening and what Coun Parry says. I will be happy to speak with him outside the meeting. I will go to the chief officer of Honda and see what more we can say.”

Councillors voted unanimously to create a fund of £200,000 in March 2019 to support Honda and its supply chain staff.

The Unite trade union representative in Swindon Alan Tomala said it shouldn’t be used for “things like job clubs and CV-writing courses”.

Honda confirmed it would keep staff working at the plant until it finally leaves in July 2021.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: "We have a very strong working relationship with Honda and, as the leader and chief executive outlined, a lot of work is taking place behind the scenes to help all associates and the firms in the supply chain.

"Most of the work of the various task groups has focussed on supporting Honda of the UK Manufacturing's decisions around training programmes, and bringing training providers together.

"An service has been set up with the supply chain companies to identify individuals’ skills needs to enable training to be put in place, which is relevant to them. Bespoke training has also been designed for Honda and supply chain associates who want to start-up their own businesses after leaving the company.

"A series of virtual events and videos are being planned which will focus on preparing Swindon residents for redundancy and supporting mental wellbeing."