ALMOST 200 new jobs are coming to a major employer in South Tyneside after councillors agreed an extension to its factory.
Members of the council’s planning committee yesterday gave the go-ahead for a single-storey light industrial building at Siemens in North Farm Road, Hebburn.
The unit is to be used for the assembly of electrical harnesses for rail carriages.
It is part of the borough plant’s share in a massive £1.6bn contract to make 1,400 carriages as part of an extension of the Thameslink line from Brighton to Bedford.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council and representative for the Monkton ward, said the contract – which will create 180 jobs – is a “winner all-round”.
He added: “These jobs are so very important.
“It’s a good factory and the work will involve doing the wiring for carriages as part of the cross-rail contract.
“The important thing is that this factory can be used for various other sorts of work later on, after this contract is completed.
“Not only does it create new jobs, but it also protects existing ones. It’s a winner all-round.”
The expansion is timely for the Hebburn plant.
Workers have been worried that some of their work could be transferred to Goa in India.
The potential job losses have been blamed on increased international competition in the energy protection market.
But German-owned Siemens has stressed all along that work on the massive Thameslink contract would not be affected.
Gavin Peralta, programme manager at Siemens Services, said: “We are making good progress with our plans to prepare the Hebburn site to undertake the manufacture of hi-tech rail components, which includes work on the Thameslink contract.
“The planning application was the next stage in this process.”
A report to the committee said: “The proposal would bring a new business operation onto the site for the applicant and it would create 180 new jobs.
“It is considered acceptable in terms of layout and design.
“The proposed activities that would take place inside this new building do not involve significant or heavy plant and machinery that would give rise to significant noise being generated.”
The applications includes 90 car parking spaces and storage for 40 cycles.
The grey steel clad building will be 2,700 square metres and 9ft high.