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Lifted and shafted

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At a House of Commons reception organised by Birmingham council, leader Mike Whitby told MPs that he had “personally secured jobs at Longbridge after building links between the city and China”, according to Jonathan Walker of the Birmingham Post.

Coun Whitby told the reception that his efforts promoting Birmingham in China had paid off following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005.

The carmaker was bought by Chinese firm Nanjing Automotive – which in turn was taken over by Shanghai-based SAIC – which could have shifted all production to China.

He added: “And then sadly we had the demise of Rover. And Nanjing automotive company purchased the MG mark. There were fears that Nanjing would “lift and shift” the Rover operation, moving machinery to China to build cars there, he said.

“But because we then said this city is going to reach out and welcome in, they saw a rationale for being here.

“Eventually they were taken over by SAIC. And I went to Shanghai and I made an appeal to their directors and said: ‘you see in Birmingham a city that has a vision, which is underpinned by what we call a Big City Plan’. Clearly they saw that we had the vision to drive forward this city.”

He added: “And now in fact SAIC actually does make cars in Longbridge and employs 300 people that are engineers and designers and their European headquarters are there.”

I don’t think Mr Whitby’s account is accurate. The vast majority of the Longbridge plant has been reduced to rubble. SAIC does not “make cars in Longbridge”, it just runs a small scale assembly operation. And Nanjing/SAIC did “lift and shift” the whole Rover operation, moving machinery to China to build cars there.

Written by beleben

February 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm

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