THE MP for Pendle has spoken of his disappointment after Barnoldswick manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce announced plans to reduce its workforce by 162 employees.

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: “Rolls-Royce has informed employees and employee representatives at its Barnoldswick facility of proposals to reduce the workforce at the site.

"There has been a drop in workload due to a decline in demand for some of the legacy products made there, and in addition there have been limited opportunities to bring in new work. This has resulted in a proposed reduction of 162 roles this year.

"We will offer full support to employees who are impacted by the changes and as part of this process we will look at opportunities for the redeployment of affected employees, voluntary severance and reducing the use of agency workers.

"We will seek to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible."

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “These job losses are deeply disappointing and this will be a worrying time for local employees.

"I have spoken to Rolls-Royce management about how they will be supporting those directly affected and regularly meet with trade union representatives.

"Rolls-Royce workers in Barnoldswick are highly skilled and have a level of knowledge which is invaluable to the company. I therefore feel this is a deeply regrettable and short-sighted decision.”

Councillor David Oliver, chairman of Barnoldswick Town Council, said: "This is incredibly sad news to hear that 162 jobs are to go. I sincerely hope that Rolls-Royce will change their minds.

"They are a very good employer in the Barnoldswick and Pendle area, and from what I've heard they are a good company to work for.

"I have a lot of neighbours and friends who started off and worked in an apprenticeship there and then worked their way up through the business."

Cllr Oliver said he was surprised by the job losses after recent plans to build extensions at the Bankfield site were approved in November 2016.

He said : "I was at Rolls-Royce just a few months ago when they talked about expanding to protect the future of the company in Barnoldswick."

The Rolls-Royce spokesman added: "We have invested around £50 million at Barnoldswick in the last year to increase capacity of our wide chord fan blade facility and also to create a Centre of Excellence for Structures at the site. This will help us remain competitive in future.”

This scheme, which was approved by the West Craven Area Committee in November 2016, involved building extensions to add much needed floorspace to the Bankfield site to help increase manufacturing output for wide core fan blades.

At the time, a Rolls-Royce spokesman told the committee: "The need for these extensions is driven by the growth of the aerospace division in Barnoldswick. If this were to go ahead, it would help provide a continuous supply of fan blades, and there is a real demand for the fan blades on the engines we're selling."