BY ANTONY HOPKER
Transport firms in Coventry have been challenged to work with the city council to build a new bus station in the Barracks car park in the city centre.
Cllr Bob Waugh, who is chairman of the Economic Affairs Policy Team, told a full council meeting that there would be buses in Broadgate, despite fears to the contrary.
But he said there should be a re-think of the routes buses used in the city centre, and there should be a new approach to make sure that the new city squares did not stifle use of public transport.
Cllr Waugh was using the changes being planned as part of a civic square scheme as an illustration of Coventry’s ability to re-invent itself.
Speaking in a debate about the situation affecting Rover, Cllr Waugh said that the city had shown an ability to get itself through countless crises in the 1980s.
Labour and Conservative councillors agreed that the city should offer help to the taskforce set up to try and help the Longbridge plant through any difficulties.
The Socialist group abstained from the motion, after having an amendment calling for the nationalisation of Rover defeated.
Cllr Dave Nellist (Socialist, St Michael’s) said: “Like British Aerospace before, BMW have cherry-picked the best bits of Rover. The problems facing Rover are not militancy or trade unions. In recent years the workers have given more in terms of concessions and it’s not made any difference.”
Cllr Nellist said the money for reviving the Longbridge area should be made available to allow the workers to diversify and keep the plant open, instead of waiting for hardship to set in.
Deputy council leader Arthur Waugh, opening the debate, said Coventry had suffered similar problems to Longbridge on a weekly basis in the 1980s.
He said the loss of huge firms like British Leyland, Alfred Herbert, Wickmans and the Coventry Gauge and Tool Company had been a massive blow.
But he said initiatives like the University of Warwick Science Park and the Westwood Business Park, had helped the city recover.
He added: It took the Tory government three years to grant the West Midlands region development area status – it wasn’t giving any money out. The West Midlands was the heart of manufacturing in the 1980s and it looks like it will suffer again if it is not dealt with quickly, compassionately and humanely.
“There’s a difference between the ’80s, when Coventry suffered. We had a government that didn’t care then. We have a government today that cares and is prepared to look at the situation.”