Major support to help regenerate the UK’s West Midlands economy has been announced today by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers.
Byers unveiled a package for proposals worth £59 million recommended by the Rover Task Force to modernise, diversify and regenerate the region’s economy.
The announcement was made at an AEEU conference on manufacturing in West Bromwich.
‘A year ago, BMW announced its intention to sell Longbridge to the venture capitalist Alchemy,’ said Byers. ‘Had that gone ahead only 1,000 to 1,500 people would now be employed at Longbridge. This compares to the 7,500 presently employed there.’
Byers said the government will support the main proposals from the Rover Task Force strategy, including a regional automotive centre to provide a single location for the SMMT Industry Forum, which is currently split between Solihull, Warwick and London; and a regional apprenticeship training scheme for the automotive sector.
Other proposals include schemes to encourage small businesses in the sector to work together in collaborative ventures to develop new products and processes; exploring the potential for three high tech corridors, and promoting and developing new business sectors.
‘I am delighted that the Secretary of State has accepted the proposals developed by the Rover Task Force,’ said Alex Stephenson, Chairman of the Rover Task Force. ‘It will make us much better equipped to cope with the sort of economic shock we faced just one year ago.’