The UK economy is set to receive a major boost today with news of a huge investment in a Vauxhall car plant, creating new jobs and adding an extra production shift.
The car giant is expected to announce that the next generation of its Astra model will be built at the firm's factory in Ellesmere Port on Merseyside, guaranteeing the future of the plant for many years.
There had been speculation earlier this year that the plant could miss out on future investment by owners General Motors, threatening heavy job losses.
Vauxhall workers have voted by 94% in favour of a new pay and conditions deal which clears the way for investment at the Ellesmere Port plant, sources told the Press Association today.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, and officials from the Unite union, have been lobbying the car firm for months in a bid to attract new investment, and their efforts appear to have paid off.
The Ellesmere Port site is 50 years old this year and employs 2,100 workers, who are being consulted on a new labour agreement, believed to include pay, described by those close to the talks as ground-breaking.
Cable said: "Huge efforts have been made to try to secure the future of the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port and the government has played an important role in making the progress we have so far.
"Today's decision to ballot the workforce signals a very strong vote of confidence by General Motors in the UK automotive industry and is the culmination of weeks of hard work and behind-the-scenes talking between the company, the unions and the Government.
"This is a positive step. But we are not there yet. Important decisions lie ahead and I strongly encourage the workforce to support the recommendations of the union leadership and to see Ellesmere Port continuing to make great quality cars beyond the turn of the decade.
"We hope that there can now be a speedy resolution so that the uncertainty can be removed and Vauxhall's workers can get back to doing what they do best - making cars."
Ellesmere Port builds the Astra Sports Tourer, making 140,000 models last year. The plant was first built in 1962, producing its first car, a Viva, two years later.
A decision to build the new Astra in the UK will hit GM's factory in Bochum, Germany.
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