£1billion AgustaWestland deal to benefit thousands in Somerset

Chard & Ilminster News: CLLR Ric Pallister. CLLR Ric Pallister.

NEWS of a £1billion deal to build new helicopters for the Norwegian government in Yeovil has been welcomed across the district and beyond.

The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat MP and secretary of state for business, innovation and skills headed to South Somerset to visit AgustaWestland, where 3,000 jobs are to be safeguarded as a result.

The deal will not only benefit the town’s major employer, but will have a positive knock-on effect on independent businesses across the district which work in support of AgustaWestland.

AgustaWestland will supply 16 AW101 search and rescue helicopters to the Norwegian government and will include up to 15 years of support and training.

Cllr Ric Pallister, leader of South Somerset District Council, said: “This is a hugely significant order to AugustaWestland and to the people of South Somerset and yet again signifies the international importance of the company.

“I am immensely proud of what AugustaWestland has achieved and is continuing to achieve in a very competitive market, but it is not just the company, it is also about the many small and medium sized businesses that are in the support orbit around AgustaWestland.

“75-80% of the business goes into the supply chain and much of that is local to South Somerset so this is extremely good news for the economy of the district.

“It was also excellent to see the Minister recognise our broader contribution to the UK economy with his visit to Chard and another local company – Numatic International – which goes from strength to strength.

“Numatic may not be a household name but ‘Henry’ and his smiling face on the front of vacuum cleaners certainly is. Numatic is just one of a range of businesses in the district who are major exporters.

“With a 40% stake in manufacturing, South Somerset has been recognised as the engine room of the Somerset economy and the latest order for AugustaWestland confirms that we remain at the very leading edge of the aerospace industry.”

David Laws MP added: “I am delighted at the news that AgustaWestland has won the contract to supply the Norwegian government with 16 search and rescue helicopters. They have once again fought off competition from strong international competitors and shown that we can be really proud of the manufacturing quality in our area.

“I want to congratulate all those at AgustaWestland who have helped to win this contract, this success represents a boost for the local economy and will secure hundreds of jobs in Yeovil.”

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