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Deeside Toyota plant future looking bright as First Minister Carwyn Jones hails Flintshire success story

THE future is bright at Toyota’s Deeside engine plant as the factory marks its 20th anniversary.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones hailed the work done at the Deeside Industrial Park factory as he visited the site on Monday for the landmark celebration.

A big reception was held for the First Minister for Wales, who was joined by Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant and Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami.

As well as many Flintshire politicians who made the visit to the factory, also in attendance were Hiroyuki Ochiai, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Europe (TME) and Takeshi Numa, managing officer of the Toyota Motor Company (TMC). Both guests had made the journey from Japan to be at the factory.

While the purpose of the event was to celebrate 20 years of the factory, there was an emphasis on looking to the future, having survived recent economic turmoil, and being at the forefront of eco technology.

The First Minister was shown around the facilities at the plant, including schemes put in place to improve efficiency and lifelong learning.

Mr Jones said: “It is a great pleasure to be back at this plant to celebrate such an historic milestone.

“Automotive manufacturing has gone through a tough time recently, but it’s now turning a corner. It’s very important for the North Wales economy, and is important for Wales and indeed the UK.

“We want to see it go from strength to strength and with the dedication shown by the employees and from Japan viewing it as a long-term investment, we are looking to secure a viable future for a plant like this.

“Through Government schemes such as ProAct, we kept people training at the plant so there was no lag when the motor market picked up and they were able to pick up production.

“At the moment Toyota are doing well and the Deeside Enterprise Zone is on the way.”

One of the biggest challenges the plant faced was around 2008/09, when the global financial crisis hit hard on the car industry.

Richard Kenworthy, engine plant director, said: “We have been here 20 years and have had a lot of support from employees working together and from Toyota in Japan.

“We can look forward to the next cycle with increasing optimism. We are already producing hybrid engines which we export to Japan.

“There is an environmental push. We have also shown the First Minister the employees’ allotments and have rainwater retention set up at the factory. It’s all about reducing the carbon footprint.”

Mr Ochiai said: “TMC expectation in Deeside has always been very high and the engine plant has faced many difficulties.

“The plant has emerged through these tough times better and had numerous successes. Deeside is an outstanding example of what can be achieved and we should all be proud of it.”

Mr Numa added: “Deeside has shown great ability to take on challenges and opportunities to grow and I would like to thank all the members.”