The group set up to help Ryton workers cope with the aftermath of the plant's planned closure has vowed to do everything in its power to help them find good quality jobs.

The Peugeot Partner-ship, consisting of local authorities, learning and skills councils, MPs, and Job Centre Plus held its first meeting in Coventry last night.

It agreed to carry out a fact-finding mission to discover the needs of the 2,300 workers facing unemployment when Peugeot closes down next year.

It will also launch a study about the effect of the plant's closure on sup-pliers and the local community.

Brian Woods-Scawen, who is chairman of part-nership as well as the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Partnership, said this three pronged plan of action would support the union's desire to maintain some production at Ryton.

He said: "It was a highly productive meeting from which has emerged a clear way forward which we believe will help those caught in what will inevitably be some level of job losses.

"There was a real drive and determination in the meeting to work quickly, effectively , and collaboratively to make sure we can cope with this in the best way possible.

"This is an economically vibrant area and there are opportunities. But it is question of fitting and developing the skills of workers to suit what is available now and just as key, what will become available. We want to help people get good quality jobs commensurate with their skills."

The partnership has decided to work out what is needed before applying to the Government for funding.

West Midland MEP Mike Nattrass has claimed the Slovak Government illegally gave Peugeot a #73 million incentive to shift production from Ryton to its country.

The UK Independence Party member for the West Midlands said the government in Bratislava broke European Union rules in handing out the grant.

He has now laid down a question in the Euro Parliament, asking the EU to stop the grant which he believes would make Peugeot reconsider building the new factory at Trnava.

He said: "We have learned the Slovak government put 105 million euros into the Peugeot project.

"This is illegal as they failed to get EU permission. There are good, honest and hard working people at Ryton and they are facing losing their jobs.

"This is a disgrace. It took two years for the EU to approve a #14.8 million DTI grant for Ryton, but others don't seem to play by the same rules.

"If they are forced to hand back the money, Peugeot would have to blink and maybe reconsider setting up the plant there."