Richard Burden, MP for Birmingham Northfield, has today been awarded a parliamentarian road safety award by charity Brake and Direct Line.
The award recognises Richard’s long-standing involvement in transport and his commitment to road safety, particularly during his time as Shadow Transport Minister between 2013 and 2017. Richard has established himself as a strong supporter of the transport safety agenda across the years; promoting new vehicle technologies and calling for tougher law enforcement and sentencing.
As MP for a vehicle manufacturing heartland, Richard Burden has strong connections to vehicle development, and has consistently urged the industry to develop safe, sustainable and fair practices. Safe vehicles are a vital part of the safe systems agenda that works towards a future with zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Richard is a worthy winner of this parliamentarian road safety award. Improved vehicle safety standards are vital to reducing needless deaths and serious injuries on the road. His tireless work to raise the safety bar of new vehicles is to be applauded, alongside his numerous achievements in his four years as Shadow Transport Minister.”
Accepting his award, Richard Burden MP said: “I want to thank Brake and Direct Line for selecting me for a parliamentary road safety award which I feel honoured to receive. Progress in vehicle design and the rapid technological advancement in intelligent, connected and automated control systems have real potential to help make our roads safer. Together with action to promote best practice in road design, road user education and more effective enforcement of regulations, they can and do save lives.
“Much has been achieved but every person killed or injured on our roads is one too many. That should remind us all of our continuing responsibility to identify what more we can do to make the vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads a reality. I pay tribute to Brake and Direct Line for the work they do make our roads safer and to promote awareness amongst road users.”
I have received a huge number of emails and letters about Brexit in recent weeks and months. I wanted to share with you all the response I have sent out to constituents on Brexit and the way forward.
As you may be aware in the weeks after the referendum, I wrote an initial response to the defining and far reaching challenges Brexit brings for our country. If you have not a chance to read it, much of it still hold true, and I would encourage you to read it: http://richardburden.com/2016/06/my-thoughts-on-brexit-and-our-future.
In the months since, I have done my best to attend the debates and opportunities to scrutinise the Government’s work on prospectively leaving the EU in Parliament. You can find the latest updates on Parliament’s scrutiny of Brexit here: http://www.parliament.uk/eu-referendum.
You may also be interested to know the House of Commons Brexit Committee has recently been established, under the Chairmanship of former Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hillary Benn MP, which will review Government policy closely to ensure British interests and our regions are best protected. You can track its work here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/exiting-the-european-union-committee/.
Returning to the work I have done here are a few updates I hope you find interesting: Read more
Originally published in Bromsgrove Standard – 30 September 2016
Many of you may have already heard the recent news that MG has announced they intend to cease assembling vehicles at their site in Longbridge. With the loss of around 25 local jobs, the overall scale of this is vastly different from when MG Rover stopped production over a decade ago – with the loss of over 6,500 jobs. But it still brought back memories and – whether you are one of 25 or one of 6,500 – losing your jobs is still losing your job. It did not have to be like this.
While I understand the business concerns that MG have surrounding costs of assembly at Longbridge, I am still hugely disappointed by this decision and believe it to be a premature one. Part of the problem here is that existing concerns over cost have undoubtedly been aggravated by problems with the strength of the pound and the cost of imports. As Professor David Bailey, of Aston University, has explained this week: “post-Brexit, the costs of import are much more expensive and there is uncertainty about the future. MG had hoped to use the UK as a launch pad for selling into Europe.”
More discussions should have taken place to explore alternatives and options before any decisions were finalised. In addition to discussing this with MG, I have been speaking with local Councillor and Birmingham Council Cabinet Member for Skills, Brett O’Reilly, as well as the Government. I know that they, like me, are willing to meet MG to discuss and explore options and help that may be available and I am sure the same will be true for the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership. That is why I have appealed to MG to delay this decision so that these detailed meetings can take place.
Let us remember though, that we are not talking about the end of the Shanghai Auto/MG operation at Longbridge though. The Shanghai Automotive Technical Centre will remain at Longbridge, with between 300 and 400 skilled engineers and others working there. In addition to this vital Research and Development operation, there will also be MG sales, marketing and after-sales staff working at the plant. We can build on that, but it is another reason why I think this announcement is premature as we haven’t been able to work with MG to explore all the options.
It is vital that MG get around the table with myself, government, LEP and Birmingham City council to try to find a solution. The voice of employees through their trade unions also needs to be heard. We need to do this in the interests of constituents, local business, the community and the broader automotive industry. While we may not be able to achieve the ideal outcome, we may be able to achieve a better one if all those involved work together to find constructive solutions.
Responding to news that MG intend to cease assembling vehicles at the Longbridge site, Richard Burden MP said:
“MG’s decision to close its assembly line at Longbridge is hugely disappointing and I believe it is premature. I understand the business concerns that MG have surrounding costs of assembly at Longbridge, which have undoubtedly been aggravated by problems with the strength of the pound. However, more discussions should have taken place to explore alternatives and options before any decisions were finalised.
“Having spoken to the Government, I know they are willing to meet MG to discuss and explore options and help that may be available and I am sure the same will be true for the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership. That is why I have appealed to MG to delay this decision pending such detailed meetings.
“I’m therefore disappointed that this announcement has been made in advance of those further meetings taking place. I’m pleased that MG want to continue their operation in the UK, including the successful Shanghai Automotive Technical Centre at Longbridge which is associated with MG. We can build on that and that is another reason why I think this announcement is premature. It is vital that MG get around the table with myself, government, LEP and Birmingham City council to try to find a solution. The voice of employees through their trade unions also needs to be heard. We need to do this in the interests of my constituents, local business and the broader automotive industry.”
You can find out more about the announcement on the BBC, Birmingham Mail and B31 Voices
The government must learn the lessons of the collapse of MG Rover.
Car-making at Longbridge and steel at Port Talbot and elsewhere are not simply about the economies of those areas. They are about their heritage; about community identity and the prospects for the next generation. A focus on building community resilience was a vital part of the response to the collapse of MG Rover in Birmingham. It was only partially successful here – particularly once the immediate crisis had passed – and we are still living with the consequences of that. It will be no less important in Port Talbot.
There are lessons here for ministers over Port Talbot and Steel. Involve local partners, don’t just hand decisions down to them from ministerial working groups. Think strategically and if time is avoidably preventing a viable future being secured, do what is necessary to buy that time. And while taking a public stake in commercial enterprises is not likely to be a solution of itself, it can help – at least on a temporary basis – to put a sustainable strategy in place and to keep it on track.