The Government is ready to subsidise Dunlop Motorsport’s move to a new site – if the business remains in the UK and scraps plans to move production overseas, ministers have said.
Business Minister Matthew Hancock made the offer publicly in the House of Commons.
The minister was speaking in a debate on the threat to close tyre manufacturer Dunlop Motorsport’s factory in Erdington, Birmingham.
He said: “Possible new sites have been discussed and financial aid remains on the table.”
US-based parent company Goodyear Dunlop has announced the loss of 241 jobs in the city as production shifts to France and Germany.
The business is forced to leave its current site because its existing site has been bought by neighbouring Jaguar Land Rover, which is to use the land as part of its expansion plans.
But Goodyear Dunlop has rejected efforts by Birmingham City Council, backed by Business Secretary Vince Cable, to find it a new site in the city.
Leading a debate, MP Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington) told MPs that Birmingham council leader Sir Albert Bore wrote to Goodyear Dunlop on July 24 to say there was sufficient land available at a competitive price and that the council would assist with a package to aid relocation of the factory.
He said: “Goodyear Dunlop has both a moral and a legal responsibility to look at the alternatives to closure that are on the table.”
Mr Hancock said: “We are urging it to look again at a UK option during this period of statutory consultation.
“We are working with the council and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills locally in the West Midlands, and with the company to try to persuade it to take up options.
“Possible new sites have been discussed and financial aid remains on the table — I stress that.
“The final decision is a commercial one for Dunlop, but we are working extremely hard to try to retain its presence here in the UK.”
However, he said the Government was also ready to ensure “the people affected will receive the best possible support to help them to find new jobs” if the overseas relocation goes ahead. He added: “Whatever the outcome, the situation with Dunlop motor sport should not be allowed to overshadow the wider success of the automotive industry... the plant is next to the Jaguar Land Rover plant, which is a great symbol of the automotive industry’s renaissance.”
Mr Dromey praised the Birmingham Post and its sister paper the Birmingham Mail for coverage of Dunlop Motorpsort.
He said: “I also thank the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Mail for their outstanding championing of the cause of the motorsport factory. They have stood up for Birmingham.”
He said he had been approached by constituents and business leaders who were deeply concerned about the impact the closure could have.
Birmingham MP Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), speaking in the same debate, said: “I too appeal to Dunlop and Goodyear. If they continue to support the motor sport industry, which has been good for their company and its profile, as well as its tyres being important to the industry, why are they leaving Birmingham?
“Alternative sites have been offered, and three have been developed in detail.
“There is even a site at Longbridge in my constituency if they prefer that. There are all sorts of options for Dunlop, so why leave the epicentre of the global motor sport industry, which is in the UK?”
Earlier this month, David Cameron also stressed the Government’s commitment to trying to convince Dunlop to stay.
He told the Commons: “The recovery of the automotive sector, particularly in the West Midlands... has been hugely welcome for our country.
“Dunlop is an historic name and an historic brand I’ll certainly do everything I can to work with the Business Secretary and him to get a good outcome.”