The leadership of Coventry Council was last night attempting to put a brave face on the latest blow to a city that 35 years ago boasted more car factories than anywhere else in the country.

Peugeot, although based at Ryton and therefore marginally across the Warwickshire border, is the last volume motor manufacturer left in the Coventry travel-to-work area.

By summer 2007, the production line will cease and Peugeot will have gone the way of Jaguar, Rover, Standard-Triumph, Humber, Hillman and a host of other names.

In the 1970s, 55 per cent of Coventry's adult population had jobs in manufacturing.

Demand for skilled car workers was so great that it was said, with some certainty, that you could be sacked in the morning and walk into another job in the afternoon.

Today, the figure is down to 18 per cent and falling fast.

During the recessions of the 1980s it was not uncommon for as many as 10,000 manufacturing jobs to disappear in a single week.

The city council was dominated by car factory shop stewards who found themselves an agreeable billet as Labour councillors.

Some of them - most notably Bob Ainsworth and Jim Cunningham - became MPs and are still at Westminster today. Geoffrey Robinson, another Coventry MP, was once the managing director of Jaguar.

In a city so dominated by cars, there was little in the way of alternative employment available for those who found themselves out of work.

That is not the case now, according to Coventry Council's director of economic development John McGuigan.

Mr McGuigan paints a positively rosy picture of Coven-try's economic growth, pointing out that although the city is losing 2,000 jobs a year, mainly in manufacturing, it is creating 4,000 new jobs a year.

Although there remain pockets of deprivation, unemployment in the Coventry Nuneaton and Bedworth and Warwick sub-region is down to 2.6 per cent - significantly below the national average of 3.6 per cent and a lifetime away from the 20 per cent of the early 1980s.

The new growth is prima-rily in research and development, the high added value end of manufacturing, science and technology and the service industry.

Mr McGuigan said: "There is a net growth of employment with 10,000 jobs alone being created across the north of the city.

"While it is of course a very sad day for the people working at Ryton, we do not believe the closure of Peugeot will pose a fundamental threat to the economy of Coventry."

One of the council's biggest concerns is finding ways to "grow the population" of Coventry in order to take advantage of economic growth.

"We have more people employed in the local economy now than we have had for 20 years. We are getting into a situation where there are more jobs than people.

"More than 12,000 people in Coventry are employed in the ICT sector, while the service sector is growing rapidly. These are areas that simply didn't exist years ago," Mr McGuigan added.

Ironically, some of the Peugeot workers who stand to lost their jobs could find employment with Delamare, a modular construction company which specialises in making hotel rooms. It is based at Browns Lane, formerly the headquarters of Jaguar.

"They are looking for people with the sort of discipline that assembly workers have got," Mr McGuigan added.

He said the emphasis over the next year would be on reskilling Peugeot workers and helping them to find new jobs.

While the Government poured £40 million into an MG Rover task force when the Birmingham-based company collapsed a year ago, there will not be aid on a similar scale for Coventry.

Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency, does not expect that the demise of Ryton will result in a rescue plan on the same level.

AWM, which heads the MG Rover task force, expects the Learning and Skills Council and JobcentrePlus to play the main roles in finding jobs for the 2,300 Peugeot workers.

An AWM spokesman said there were significant differences between the plight of MG Rover and Peugeot.

Peugeot's closure will have limited impact on the Midland components industry, since most of the parts used at Ryton are sourced from France.