Dear Editor, The current debate about government support for Jaguar and Land Rover will never be fairly argued if left to the national press and uninformed London based commentators.

To those who, say “we would say that wouldn’t we” I answer, you bet we would, because history has shown that if we in Birmingham and the Greater Midlands do not stand up for our industry, no one else will.

These motor companies are much more than just businesses, they are at the foundation of our enterprise and at the heart of the lives of at least 15,000 direct employees and at least four or five times that number of suppliers, dealers and dependant companies.

That in itself may not be enough to impress our masters in Whitehall, but they also spend around £3billion every year on research and development to ensure their cars are modern and meet the needs of their customers.

I well understand the argument which says that Tata should invest itself first. Well haven’t they done that already and continue to do so and it is right that they should be the first in line to support their own business. But government has a role. No one should be looking for just a “bail out”.

JLR needs sensible support to ensure these companies survive to fight another day and repay what is given in taxes and prestige for our country. They carry the mark of British workmanship around the world and we should be proud of their brands and do whatever we can to support them.

The government moved very fast when it seemed that the London based banks were about to collapse. This is probably the first time the south east of the UK has felt or indeed really understood the pain of a recession and the loss of jobs and dignity which come with it.

We in the industrial heartland of the Midlands know what it means and we have the strength of character and innovative spirit to climb out of it, hopefully, faster than the so-called experts predict.

But we cannot do it alone. So I say to this government, who many blame for the mess in which we find ourselves today, ignore the doom spirits in London, look to the region which created much of Britain’s wealth in the first place and now that we need some help, give it, give it willingly and give it quickly.

Sir Bernard Zissman

Edgbaston, Birmingham


Government lacks understanding

Dear Editor, The continued ambivalence of the UK government towards the plight of Jaguar Land Rover demonstrates its total lack of understanding in developing a sustainable economy.

Under this government, manufacturing has continued to suffer with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and the Prime Minister and Chancellor continue to act like rabbits caught in the headlamps.

JLR has continued to compete where others have failed and it is in this current crises that it has turned to the government for support. With an excellent programme of investment and a solid privately owned international owner with the right ethos of long term development UK taxpayers would be right to expect support for this business as opposed to the billions given to the nationalisation of Northern Rock.

The Midlands in particular has suffered under Labour with the inability of the hapless DTI to support Rover and its largely incompetent successor the DBERR acting like an adjunct to the Treasury. It is unfortunate that this government has still not understood an important fact: you do not build an economy based on people shopping, you do it by making things but then this government has never understood this.

JLR employs some of the best qualified technical professionals in the world. We must ensure that we save their skills and support TATA in its efforts to secure a strategic package which incidentally is NOT a bailout.

Muhammad Hasan

Birmingham Post Blog team


Mandelson’s decision critical for the region

Dear Editor, Jaguar Land Rover is the backbone of UK manufacturing. Thanks to the tremendous investment of Tata, we now can look forward to a more prosperous West Midlands – and a more prosperous country – for the years to come.

However, Jaguar Land Rover, like every other business up and down the country has been affected by the freeze in the credit markets.

That is why the West Midlands Business Council was delighted that Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, announced in November a Government backed soft loans scheme, administered by the Regional Development Agency, so that some form of bridge funding can continue for small and medium-sized firms.

The decision by Lord Mandelson was critical for the Midlands because without some form of normal bridge funding taking place then the normal operation of business cannot continue – and that would hit jobs.

But it is not just small and medium sized businesses being hit by the credit crunch. So are larger firms such as Jaguar Land Rover. That is why business breathed a sigh of relief when it was reported that Jaguar Land Rover and the Government were in discussions for a loan package while the problems with the banks in restricting borrowing, for the time being, continued.

Some national newspaper columnists have claimed this is an old style 1970s bailout. But this is not the case. Jaguar Land Rover is reportedly looking for normal loan financing as part of its normal business operations, such as investing in Research and Development. Therefore, we hope that the Government will not just help SMEs with loan financing but also consider the needs of Jaguar Land Rover.

Clearly, as all economic commentators and business people have been saying, the key answer to all these issues is to get the banks and other financial institutions lending to each other in as normal a fashion as is possible.

After the shocks we have all been through that will be a tough call. But this is what is needed and we urge the Government to work hard within the G20 and the EU, as well as with the Financial Services Authority in this country, so that the lifeblood of business – normal business lending – continues.

James Watkins Executive Director

West Midlands Business Council, Edward Street, Birmingham


Waiting for Blair’s words on carnage

Dear Editor, I am waiting with bated breath for the kind and knowledgeable words of wisdom from the “special” Middle East peace envoy, Tony Blair, on the latest carnage by the Israelis on the over-populated city of Gaza and the killing of and wounding of hundreds of civilians.

The Israelis continue to blame the mortar bombs, they call them rockets for effect, falling on stony ground by the militant Palestinians, who are seeking pathetic revenge for the Israeli bullying of their race over 60 years.

The range of the mortar bombs are very short compared to the air strikes perpetrated by the Israelis on the Palestinians and one wonders if the Jewish settlements, which the militants are targeting, should be where they are anyway. Isn’t the surreptitious encroachment by the Jews on Palestinian land the problem? And why does Israel keep up this “invasion” knowing the problems they are causing for themselves and the Palestinians?

They will not always have America and Tony Blair to support them and I cannot understand, with their history of misery, why they are unable to be more friendly and magnanimous to their neighbours. The bullying and the belligerence can only end in carnage on both sides.

Most people say that Tony Blair, as a disciple of Bush, would have no effect, something the British people are fully aware of after ten years and where it has led us.

DWathen. Salford Priors, Evesham


Allotments should be protected, not built on

Dear Editor, In 2004, having fought for ten years to prevent losing more green space in Handsworth, campaigners were forced to accept the decision, by a small margin of the councillors on Birmingham’s Planning Committee, to negotiate a Section 106 Agreement to permit new homes to be built on the Victoria Jubilee Allotments (VJA) – a private site neglected by its owners.

Can it be that having taken a profit from the houses they and their predecessors, Westbury Homes, have built and sold on the VJA, the current developer, Charles Church, is seeking permission to renegotiate the agreement made with the Council and – implicitly – with a most active community (Jane Tyler, Birmingham Post, December 24, 2008)?

We, with many others, anticipating trends now acknowledged by Government, (e.g. Baroness Andrews’ Introduction to ‘Growing in the Community’ 2nd ed.2008) argued convincingly that there was enough demand for allotments for the whole VJA site to be afforded the protection allotments are allowed by statute and Planning Guidance (PPG17).

The city planner’s lower estimate of that demand was used to sway the Committee to approve the application to build houses on the allotments. In May 2007 we were assured by Alan Orr, Perry Barr Community Planning Officer, that new houses had been sold in sufficient numbers to trigger the next stage of the S106A – three playing fields, including a cricket pitch, and 80 allotments.

How brash if now, having taken their profit, Charles Church claim themselves ‘burdened’ by the terms on which they made it.

Simon Baddeley

Handsworth Allotments Information Group