Local MP welcomes weekend of Austin celebrations


Birmingham Northfield MP, Richard Burden, today looked forwarded to a weekend of Austin Centenary celebrations due to take place at Cofton Park and the Longbridge site in his constituency. Amongst other events planned, there will be a parade of 100 Austin and Longbridge built vehicles spanning the 100 years of production at the plant, which will travel from the centre of Birmingham out to the site. The event will be the largest ever gathering of Austin cars, vans and commercial vehicles. The Annual Parliamentary Classic Car Run will for the first time travel the other way up the M40 to end at the Longbridge plant and to join in the celebrations. In addition, campaigner Gemma Cartwright has organised a wide range of activities for the local community and for those who are not quite old enough to appreciate classic cars.

Local and national businesses have donated gifts for a raffle to be held on the day (including a holiday from Haven Holidays, the use of a grandstand for the evening at Hall Green Dogs and a night in the Tudor Court Hotel, Solihull) as well as providing entertainment such as a bouncy castle (supplied by Fun Inflatables, Redditch). This is in addition to a bungey run, Indian head massage and football events led by ex-Rover workers.

The Parliamentary Classic Car Run, which is in its sixth year, will for the first time drive up to Birmingham from Gaydon in Warwickshire to join in the celebrations, where the cars will be welcomed by Richard burden MP and motor racing legend, Sir Stirling Moss.

Richard Burden MP said:

“As a local resident as well as being the constituency MP, I know that the Longbridge car plant has been a key part of the identity of the communities living in South West Birmingham for most of the 100 years in which “The Austin” has been in existence. Often when I tell people from outside the West Midlands that I represent “Northfield”, they are not sure where I mean. If I go on to explain that it is the bit of Birmingham that contains Longbridge they immediately understand where I am talking about.

“The collapse of MG Rover in April has been a tragedy, particularly for those who have lost their jobs. It has also hit our community hard. But none of that alters the fact that names like Austin, MG, Rover, and Longbridge are part of the UK’s great automotive and manufacturing heritage. Saturday will be a celebration of that heritage, including the efforts that MG Rover workers themselves have made over the years. It is an event for Austin, MG and Rover enthusiasts but also one that will have a strong community feel. I hope it will also demonstrate the kind of commitment that will achieve the renewal of the Longbridge area following MG Rover’s collapse, including the creation of a Technology Park, and a successful conclusion to the Regional Development Agency’s bid for a national centre for nanotechnology there. My hope is that we can also retain of car production on the Longbridge site, albeit probably different in scale and character to what we have seen before. So Saturday is about Longbridge’s future as well as its past.

“As Chair of the Parliamentary All Party Motor Group, I am also delighted that our annual classic car run will also take place this Saturday, with the destination being Longbridge. Funds raised from the event will go to the NSPCC. Thanks to Footman James and Retrocar for making the event possible and to all those who are taking part.”

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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.