There’s a flurry of activity as executives and politicians fight to save LDV.
The business, formerly Leyland DAF, has a long and proud history. It plays a key role in the region’s economy, supporting 7,000 jobs.
Local MP Liam Byrne insists this doesn’t need to be the end for the manufacturer, and is trying to help a potential buyer to raise funding.
Indeed, even if the firm does go into administration next week, it is theoretically possible that an investor could buy assets from administrators and keep the business going.
But it is also clear that the Government will only offer direct help if it believes the firm has a workable business strategy – and if it receives significant investment from the private sector.
This investment has not been forthcoming so far. LDV’s owner, GAZ, has not provided the cash, and a buyer with significant funds to invest has not emerged.
That could all change within the next few days but time is running out.
While hoping Mr Byrne and others succeed in saving LDV, we must also urge the region’s leaders and the various government agencies operating in the West Midlands to prepare for the worst.
It may appear unduly negative, or to be tempting fate, to suggest that the business chances of survival are slim. But Birmingham City Council and agencies such as Advantage West Midlands, which will have the task of picking up the pieces if the firm closes, cannot afford the luxury of undue optimism. No one would blame them if they keep their plans quiet for now. But they must start planning for the aftermath of LDV’s demise.
The staff who lose their jobs will need help to find new employment. Some may require re-training, but one issue local civic leaders should consider is to what extent skilled workers can be retained within the manufacturing sector.
They will also need to prepare for the possible closure of small businesses in the supply chain, and the potential impact on general economic confidence in the region.
It’s a stiff challenge and although the region has experience in making the most of a bad situation, thanks to the success of the Rover Task Force, that was during a period when the economy was strong.
Unemployment in the West Midlands is higher than anywhere else in the country. The region must be prepared to deal with the damage caused by further job losses.