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Articles about ‘Jobs, business & economy’

Best Small Shop Competition

Small and independent shops in and around Northfield are an important part of the character of our local area. They provide employment for many local people and are a vital part of our economy locally.

So I am asking Northfield’s small shopkeepers to enter the Best Small Shops Competition 2018 which celebrates the creativity of small shops and the central role they play in their local communities. I would also encourage local residents to consider the contribution that small shops make to their local community by making their favourite shopkeepers aware of how they could take the prize of Britain’s Best Small Shop.

The competition is open to any small shop operating in the UK and is free to enter. Shopkeepers can nominate their business until Sunday 9th September via www.bestsmallshops.co.uk. A panel of representatives from the independent retail industry will then shortlist 25 of the most impressive applications who will be invited to a Parliamentary Reception to crown the Best Small Shop for 2018.

Small shops are part of what makes our area tick and it would be great to see some local business from Northfield receiving the recognition they deserve at the national level.

Lobby of Parliament by GKN workers

Today I joined GKN workers at a lobby of Parliament organised by UNITE the Union to call on the Government to intervene in the hostile takeover bid for GKN by the Melrose company. GKN are one of Britain’s oldest and largest engineering companies making automotive and aerospace components. The GKN Aerospace plant at Kings Norton makes specialist aircraft windscreens .

Along with the GKN workers I met today and the company itself, I am extremely concerned that, if the Melrose takeover goes ahead, the likelihood is that GKN would be broken up and various units sold off to different buyers over time. Not only would that be bad for jobs in the Midlands and elsewhere, it would be bad for the UK’s key aerospace and automotive sectors as a whole. Indeed, GKN Aerospace’s strategic role as a defence contractor making components for military aircraft mean that the takeover also raises issues of national security.

Industry analysts have already observed that a hostile takeover bid like this would not be allowed in other European countries like France or Germany, and it once again underlines why the laws governing company takeovers here in the UK need urgent reform. Even under our current laws through, Ministers have powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to call in takeover bids which raise national security concerns, to safeguard the public interest. The clear message from today’s lobby is that the Government must use those powers and intervene to safeguard national security and the future of GKN.

Professor David Bailey of Aston Business School has published a series of articles in the Birmingham Post about the Melrose bid for GKN. You can read them here – https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/authors/david-bailey/

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Statement on Carillion liquidation

Undoubtedly there is great concern regarding the impact that Carillion’s liquidation will have on people and businesses in the West Midlands. It is vital that an urgent assessment is conducted to assess the impact of Carillion’s liquation on our region. I have been in close contact with Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Jobs and Skills, Brett O’Reilly and to consider what steps can be put in place to minimise the impact on Birmingham City Council and service users.

I fully support Councillor O’Reilly’s request for Government assistance in co-ordinating a response to mitigate the impact on residents and the local economy. The Government have serious questions to answer about why it continued to award Carillion contracts even after it became clear that Carillion were in serious financial difficulty and must do all that it can to ensure that employees, taxpayers and pension fund members are protected.

October Newsletter

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Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter. This covers local issues and developments as well as my actions in Parliament. As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on these or any other issues.

Best wishes,

Richard

 

In Birmingham Northfield

Boundary Review

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The Boundary Commission published their proposals for changes to Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England. Under these proposals, Birmingham would be set to lose one Parliamentary seat overall. There would still be a constituency called Birmingham Northfield, but it would be very different to the current one. Read more

MG Longbridge – IT DID NOT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS

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.