SOLIHULL borough’s MPs have appealed to the government to prioritise jobs in the car industry while overseeing the transition to green technology.
On Tuesday, April 24, Dame Caroline Spelman, MP for Meriden, and Julian Knight, MP for Solihull, met with the government’s environment secretary, Michael Gove, to discuss the recent news of Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) decision to cut agency staff.
The luxury car manufacturer confirmed around 1,000 temporary agency staff will not have their contracts renewed at its Solihull plant in Lode Lane.
It will also transfer 350 workers from its Castle Bromwich site to Lode Lane as the company attempts to cut back production.
Although united in condemnation of the cut backs, MPs, councillors and union leaders have raised concerns about Brexit and its effect on the car industry and others have challenged the government’s new restrictive diesel legislation.
The government has introduced tax levies on newly registered diesel cars in an attempt to reduce demand for the fuel which is said to produce more toxic air pollution than petrol.
Following the meeting, Dame Caroline said: “We are fortunate to have a large and successful car company locally which has created thousands of jobs in our area, giving many people the chance of a career in skilful employment which is well remunerated.
“The environment secretary promised to talk to the business secretary about what can be done to help support the car industry in making the transition to only manufacturing electric and hybrid vehicles, whilst still protecting as many jobs as possible.”
In her Westminster diary column in last week’s Observer, she added: “We urged Mr Gove to explore what action can be taken to support advancements in electric vehicle technology to benefit our automotive sector and, in doing so, relieve pressure on new, diesel cars and owners in the short term.”
Mr Knight added: “It was good to meet Michael Gove, to make crystal clear that JLR is crucial to both the West Midlands and the UK economy; policies which are seen as punishing diesel car owners are not welcome.
“Clean diesel cars, pollute less than petrol cars and we need support this technology and our local plant.
“I will continue to bang the drum for JLR, and its fantastic workforce, in Westminster.”
A spokesperson from the West Midlands Combined Authority last week said the job losses were regrettable at a time the region is attracting record investment and strong economic growth.
It said: “Through our industrial strategy and investment in transport, skills and innovation we will continue to support the businesses and people of the West Midlands to help them grow and succeed.
“We believe it’s important that government goes into the Brexit negotiations with a clear understanding of what is best for the West Midlands and we will continue to press for companies like JLR to be given as much clarity as possible on what the eventual deal with the EU may look like.
“This will help support the on-going growth of the West Midlands’ manufacturing sector although in the longer term we believe Brexit has the potential to also open up new trade opportunities for our region.”