THE LIKELY sale of Williams F1 in Grove is a 'fantastic opportunity', an Oxfordshire councillor has said.

The William Grand Prix Holdings Group announced last week it was selling all or part of its operation after a £13 million crash in profits for the year ending 2019.

It also comes after a disastrous season for the racing team last year when they scored just a single point.

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The company said it was considering a range of options, including selling part or all of its business, and said it was already in 'preliminary discussions' with several parties.

While it is unclear whether the sale will have any impact on jobs at Grove, county councillor for the village Jenny Hannaby said the news was a 'fantastic opportunity for major investments'.

She said: "An investment in the highly-respected Williams name is an investment in the community.

Oxford Mail:

Sir Frank Williams at his Grove HQ with Oxford University naval cadets.

"Of course it would be awful for the local community if the headquarters move out because this could lead to job losses.

"I want to help boost the area and protect the business opportunities."

However Mrs Hannaby also warned that, to attract investment, 'we must invest in our well-placed Grove railway station and in better connectivity links to big roads'.

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The Wantage Road Station in the village was closed in the 1960s as part of the so-called Beeching Cuts.

Mrs Hannaby said the reduced travel opportunities could potentially 'put businesses off'.

In January, the first stage of a study into railways across the county for Oxfordshire Growth Board concluded a new station could be financially viable as soon as 2028 as people moved into new homes in the area.

Wantage MP David Johnston, elected to Parliament for the first time in December, revealed yesterday he had requested a briefing with Williams to discuss jobs security.

Oxford Mail:

File photo of a dramatic display inside the Williams HQ at Grove.

He said: "Like everyone, I was very concerned to hear that this iconic brand for the constituency – and far beyond – may be put up for sale.

"I have requested a discussion with Williams regarding this and assurances about what will happen to the jobs currently held by people in Wantage and Didcot."

Williams was founded by mechanic and racing enthusiastic Frank Williams, with engineer Patrick Head, in a warehouse in Didcot in 1977.

After two decades of steadily growing success, the company moved to new purpose-built premises on a larger site in Grove in 1996, and it was officially opened by Princess Anne.

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Announcing the news last week, Williams revealed it was already in discussions with potential investors and that the partial or full sale of the team could form part of a new strategic review of its operations aimed at securing its future.

In a statement, the company said: "The WGPH board believes that the strategic review and formal sale process is the right and prudent thing to do in order to take time to consider a full range of options and put the Formula 1 team in the best possible position for the future.

"As part of this new strategic direction, the WGPH board is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available to the company."

Oxford Mail:

File photo of Sir Frank Williams and his daughter, now deputy team principal, Claire.

Williams revealed some options being considered include, but are not limited to, raising new capital for the business, a divestment of a minority stake in WGPH, or a divestment of a majority stake including a potential sale of the entire business.

It said it was yet to have any formal approaches but said it was in 'preliminary discussions' with possible investors.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams, daughter of company founder Sir Frank, said this week that the sale was 'positive news'.

She told Sky F1: "For me, this is a good thing that we’re doing, and it shouldn’t be looked at in a negative, disappointing way, or anything other than positive.

"The people at Williams understand that and they’re excited. This could potentially give us a very positive future."