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Thousands expected to take to streets in support of Honda workers

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Unite Honda protest at ParliamentUnite Honda protest at ParliamentThousands of people are expected to converge on Swindon on Saturday (March 30) as part of a campaign to keep Honda’s Swindon factory open.

The rally follows Honda's announcement in February that it was to close its manufacturing plant in Swindon, directly hitting 3,500 jobs at the plant and putting at risk 12,000 or more throughout the region and wider supply chain.

The Save Honda Swindon march will start at the County Ground at 11.30am and the march will conclude with a rally around 90 minutes later in Faringdon Road park.

The rally will be addressed by Swindon's Labour mayor, Junab Ali.

Trade union Unite, which is organising the march, says the aim of the rally is to "persuade Honda to think again, and to encourage other manufacturers to see how determined this town is to fight for its future."

At the head of the march will be two Honda Civics, the models made at the Swindon plant and which make up one in every 10 cars sold in the UK.

Unite regional secretary Steve Preddy said: “The news of the closure initially knocked the stuffing out of the Honda workforce, but the support they have had from their community so far has been tremendous.

"We are really hoping that this solidarity will be on display at our community event this month for the Honda boardroom in Japan to see.

“This will be a day for friends, families and supporters to come together to say that over the past 30 years, this town has given so much to Honda.

"The company cannot just turn its back on Swindon and its people now.

“It is not just the Honda workers who will suffer if this company walks away. We know of smaller companies whose only contract is with Honda so if Swindon closes, these jobs go too.

"The knock-on effect for the region will be devastating which is why we will fight until the last to persuade this company to think again, to stay loyal to the workers of this town and to Honda's customers in the UK."

Swindon Borough Council has announced a number of temporary road closures to support the rally.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for highways and the environment, said: “I am right behind this very public show of support as it is important we do all we can to try to convince Honda to stay in Swindon.

“We have been working closely with Wiltshire Police and Unite and, as we are expecting a lot of people to take part in the march and subsequent rally in Faringdon Road park, we have had no choice but to close these main routes around the town centre to ensure the safety of all those taking part.

“I would encourage drivers if they need to come into the town centre for those two hours next Saturday to plan their journeys accordingly and to allow for the inevitable congestion that will be caused on other parts of the road network.

“We will be employing a rolling road block on the day and we will reopen those roads affected as soon as it is safe to do so.”