Archive : Director at Austin Rover resigns over ‘criminal’ plan to cut funds

Director at Austin Rover resigns over ‘criminal’ plan to cut funds
By Clifford Webb,
Motoring Correspondent

One of Britain’s leading car manufacturing specialists has resigned as director of vehicle manufacturing at Austin Rover because of the Government’s “negative approach” to the state-controlled company. Mr Brian Fox, aged 47, said that if the Government went ahead with plans to cut Austin Rover’s investment by £250million it would be “criminal in the extreme…

Their attitude horrifies me. I think the Government are annoyed because Austin Rover’s recovery has embarrassed them. They wanted to sell Jaguar, and later Unipart, while Austin Rover lost more and more money until it became politically acceptable for them to close it down or sell if off to the Japanese,” he said.

Despite some temporary setbacks, Austin Rover had made a most remarkable recoverv and was ready to “cash in” on the sacrifices of the past years. To leave it short of funds at this time would monstrous. Mr Fox, who has responsibility for the plants at Longbridge, near Birmingham, and Cowley, Oxford, said it was imperative that the company should retain the ability to design and manufacture its own engines.

“I am not against the kind of collaboration with Honda, which saw us producing the Triumph Acclaim and now the Rover 200 from Japanese designs under licence. They fill an obvious gap in the car range. But when it appears that we shall have, to buy complete engines from Japan, at the expense of our own manufacturing capability and jobs, that makes me sick to the bottom of my stomach.”

Mr Fox was expressing publicly views which have been voiced in private by Austin Rover managers since news leaked of the proposed £250million cut in the BL corporate plan; It has been before the Government since early December and is still awaiting approval. Austin Rover executives are particularly unhappy at the way leaks have been fed to newspapers to prepare for the cut, and suspect that the Policy making unit at Number 10 is the source.

Keith Adams

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