Government grant for Ellesmere Port factory comes under fire

The British Government's plan to give Vauxhall £8.5m in subsidies is being investigated by the European Commission.The planned subsidy would help fund training at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory until 2012.However, under EU rules, state aid is only allowed to provide an extra incentive for training, and the EU believes Vauxhall would have carried out the training even without government assistance.The Ellesmere Port factory had been under threat of closure until GM announced in April that the next Astra will be built there, safeguarding 2200 jobs. GM instead decided to reduce operations at its Antwerp plant, putting 1400 Belgian jobs at risk, and quite possibly upsetting some Brussels bigwigs.

Our Verdict

The Vauxhall Astra is one of the best-looking hatchbacks, but average dynamics and performance hamper its overall appeal

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