CHANCELLOR George Osborne used the rebirth of Longrbidge following the Rover collapse ten years ago as a backdrop to launch his manifesto for the West Midlands.
Speaking to an audience of candidates and party activists he pledged to create 165,000 jobs, invest £5.2 billion in transport - including the West Midlands motorway network and offer more help to working families and homebuyers.
But he warned that the recovery would be put at risk and the West Midlands would lose HS2 and roads investment under a Labour Government propped up by the SNP.
The Tory politician was in Longbridge to launch the party’s West Midlands Manifesto in front of an audience of Conservative election candidates and activists.
Ten years after the collapse of Rover, he used the Longbridge development works as a backdrop to show that recovery is well under way.
He said that in 2010 the Government inherited an economy that ‘was on the brink’, but that now it is one of the most rapidly growing of the major economies.
He said that even then the growth in the West Midlands has recently been slower than the rest of the UK, but thanks to successes like Jaguar Land Rover and JCB the situation is improving.
But Mr Osborne warned that the SNP could wreck the plans, saying they would start HS2 in Scotland, depriving the Midlands of the benefits for a generation.
“The West Midlands would be ignored and marginalised under Ed Miliband and the SNP,” he said.
And added that promised investment in roads in the region, part of £5.2 billion transport package which will improve the M6 and M42, and upgrade the M5 and A5, would also be taken north of the border.
He set out the party’s general election commitments to the region as he visited Birmingham.
Mr Osborne also promised to boost jobs and investment in Birmingham, by extending the Birmingham Enterprise Zone, an area of the city centre where business rates are kept to be spent locally instead of being handed to the Treasury.
Further Enterprise Zones will also be created for Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton he announced.
Jobs increase in the West Midlands
Increase in people in work
Fall in average weekly earnings for a full time employee in the West Midlands
Weekly wage fall over 12 months
Asked whether the West Midlands, with a population equivalent to Scotland, should have a similar level of devolution - perhaps a version Holyrood in Birmingham, he pledged to move more power and funding away from London.
He said: “I’m a big supporter of the people of the West Midlands having more say over the issues that affect them
This is the place where there is a great tradition of creativity.
“My door is open to any combination of local authorities who want to discuss with us how they get greater control over the transport budget, the health and social care budget.
“I don’t want Greater Manchester to be the only area where this happens. Birmingham and the West Midlands has massive potential and I’m very much in favour of this happening here.”
Public spending per person