Business leaders are championing the West Midlands in Europe, in a bid to build up confidence in the region following the collapse of Rover.

West Midlands Business Council is pushing the message that manufacturing is still going strong, at its European launch today.

Representatives are meeting MEPs and European Commission officials in Brussels for the council's official launch in Europe.

It follows concern that bad news from the West Midlands could discourage investment into the region.

Richard Moxon, leader of the West Midlands Business Council delegation, said: "The West Midlands Business Council is here in Brussels to say that the West Midlands is open for business.

" Despite the European business headlines being dominated by the Rover collapse, we still have a flourishing manufacturing sector in the West Midlands - alongside a healthy professional services sector, the food and drink sector and many other business sectors, which are ensuring that companies are creating prosperity across the West Midlands region.

"While the Rover collapse is a blow, and our thoughts are with the workers, suppliers and their families affected by this crisis, we are telling European Commission officials, European Parliamentarians and other European decision that they can be involved, with confidence, in the business life of the West Midlands region.

"We are using the European launch of the West Midlands Business Council to encourage business links and inward investment right across the West Midlands region." Mr Moxon, who is also regional chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, added that West Midlands business leaders had told European Commission officials that the European Union's grants for research and development must be reformed.

He said: "The European Commission has its heart in the right place but their rules for business to access research and development grants are just too complicated."

Organisations represented by the West Midlands Business Council include the Confederation of West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, the Engineering Employers' Federation, the Federation of Small Businesses, the National Farmers' Union, the Institute of Directors and West Midlands Learning and Skills Councils. n A Worcester company that supplied contract staff to Longbridge is to make 55 people redundant following the collapse of MG Rover.

MacLellan, a cleaning and facilities management group, said the staff had contracts at the MG Rover and Powertrain sites. Laying them off will cost the company about £400,000 in unbudgeted costs in the six months to 30 June.

Chief executive John Foley said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that MacLellan had had an 18-year link with Longbridge.

However, the annual value of its contracts with MG Rover had "reduced very significantly" in recent years and now accounted for about £1.25 million of turnover.