BY ANTONY HOPKER
Up to 1,500 jobs could be lost in Coventry because of the Rover sale, but experts are still optimistic about the area’s prospects.
Carl Pearson, head of Coventry Centre For Investment, said 94 firms in the city would be affected because they did business with the car giant.
But fears that a lot of Coventry residents worked in the Longbridge plant have so far proved unfounded.
It is expected that around 750 people living in Coventry will lose their jobs, with another 750 affected in the supply trade.
Mr Pearson said the facts about the situation were still emerging and the situation was changing constantly.
Today it was reported that former Rover chief executive John Towers was putting a bid to rival the Alchemy offer and was planning to keep Longbridge in mass-production.
He told city councillors that the Coventry area could become a centre of excellence for design work in the motor industry if Ford take over Rover’s Gaydon design centre and the plans to expand Jaguar’s Whitley plant is given the go-ahead.
He said: ‘We face problems but they are against a background of general economic prosperity.
‘I wouldn’t expect everyone from Rover to end up on the dole.
‘You have to continue to invest in creating jobs for the future in the modern economy. You cannot rely upon past glories.”
Council leader Cllr John Fletcher said the ramifications of the Longbridge sale were being felt all over the country and not just in the West Midlands.
But he added that Coventry was well-placed to deal with any problems that came its way.
He said: ‘The Coventry Business Park is an enormous success. There area now more jobs on that business park than there were in the latter days of Standard, and some of them are in the engineering sector.”
Cllr Fletcher praised the Government’s taskforce for its methodical approach to the problem caused by the planned sale of Rover.
But he warned that the £127 million pledged so far would not be enough to cope with the predicted redundancies. Given an average cost of around £8,000 to create a new job £300 million would be needed.