Longbridge MP welcomes Phoenix bid


Richard Burden MP (Lab: Birmingham Northfield) whose constituency contains the Longbridge plant and is home to 2,500 of its workers has today welcomed the success of the Phoenix Consortium’s bid to buy Rover from BMW.

Mr Burden said:

‘This really is excellent news. Many people have been working so hard to achieve this result and it will be greeted with great relief by my constituents and all the people of the West Midlands. All those who jobs depend on Rover, and their families, have been living in a state of intolerable uncertainty and they will welcome this news which finally puts an end to that.

There will have to be changes at Longbridge and these will not be made without pain. There will be some job losses, both at Rover and in the supply chain. That is why the work of the Rover Task Force is still really important in providing a sound basis for regeneration, retraining and job creation. But let’s not forget the alternative – closure of the plant would have meant 24,000 job losses at the very least.

As I said, many people have worked very hard to protect jobs in the Midlands, but the really hard work starts now. There is a solid grounding to work from. Rover make good cars and they are cars that people want to buy. Rover car sales in the last month have shot up dramatically, as the prices have become more realistic, and I think, as British car buyers have started to realise the importance of buying British made cars to their own communities and local economies.

Now it is time to look to the future. One of Phoenix’s major strengths is that it is a real co-operative effort and co-operation will be the key to Rover’s future success. We need to be looking at joint arrangements with others and it is important that we use the opportunities presented by Phoenix, for example, its link to the motorsport company, Lola. Given the strength of the British motorsport industry, there are many opportunities to link our traditional industrial strengths with hi-tech industries to build a strong partnership for the future. Rover’s success depends on being part of an overall economic strategy that recognises that the divide between traditional and hi-tech industries is a false distinction. The Midlands and the motor industry need both.

Phoenix’s success in acquiring Rover is, as I said, excellent news for the Midlands and for my constituents. I wholeheartedly congratulate John Towers and his team and credit must also go to the Trade Secretary Stephen Byers. I have been speaking to him on a daily basis and I know that he has been closely involved with and supportive of this bid from the outset. The Prime Minister has also taken a close personal interest in this and I’m sure he will welcome this news for the people of the Midlands as much as I do. The Unions have played a very important role and I thank them for all the efforts that they have put in under very difficult circumstances – it has been a real stakeholder effort. I have confidence in the future of Rover cars under Phoenix, not least because they have the support and commitment of the people and of an excellent workforce. That is something that you can’t put a price on.’

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.