Politicians condemn Dunlop Motorsport for quitting Birmingham to switch production abroad

POLITICIANS have condemed tyre manufacturer Dunlop Motorsport over its decision to close its factory in Birmingham and ship production abroad, axing the jobs of almost 250 people in the process.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore and Erdington MP Jack Dromey rounded angrily on the American-owned company and accused it of abandoning the city and reneging on a pledge to investigate options for relocations elsewhere in Birmingham or the region rather than have the jobs lost to the area.

The company said its preference had been to remain at its existing site but this had not proved possible.

“For several months, we have also worked closely with local agencies and authorities to identify local Birmingham site alternatives. Unfortunately no other appropriate site was available locally which would have provided continuity of supply to our key customers,” said Sanjay Khanna, Managing Director, Dunlop Brand Europe.

“The company has begun informing and consulting with affected employees and union representatives of the Erdington site. 241 jobs will potentially be affected.”

Sir Albert Bore said the decision was “bitterly disappointing” for the city and the Dunlop workers.

However, he refuted the company’s claims that no alternative sites had been available for a new factory.

“As a council we have done everything within our power since last May to make it as easy as possible for Dunlop to remain in the city. They have been offered several alternative sites including the Advanced Manufacturing Hub in Aston, The Hub at Witton and Prologis Park in Minworth – we’ve also considered any grant support that might be possible as part of our offer,” he said.

“Additionally, I have personally written to Richard Kramer, Chairman, President and CEO of their parent firm Goodyear, in Ohio to state our case. Given the UK’s reputation as a centre of global motorsport excellence, it is a perplexing decision, and I would urge Dunlop to reconsider. We have sites ready for use, and it is not too late to rethink.

“We will continue to state Birmingham’s case and fully support Dunlop employees if we cannot get this decision reconsidered.”

Dromey said the company had also gone back on a pledge it made to just last week to Business Secretary Vince Cable to stay in the city.

He too said he would be urging the Ohio-based Dunlop management to rethink its decision.

Although officially in the consultation stage, the announcement ends speculation over the fate of the tyre production operation.

In order to meet a deadline set by Jaguar Land Rover to take over the site on September 1, production at the tyre factory must cease in May.

Goodyear Dunlop employs more than 800 people in the West Midlands and the firm currently operates a truck tyre retreading facility in Wolverhampton which had been considered as one relocation option providing the company looked to retain manufacturing in the region.

The firm said last year it remained committed to the Motorsport business and would maintain supply to customers through its European network.

The tyre manufacturer is not the only firm to announce recently it is quitting the city.

UK Mail is quitting its distribution hub in nearby Bromford Lane because the warehouse lies in the path of the proposed HS2 high speed rail line.

However, rather than abandon the region, the company has taken a compensation deal from the Department for Transport and move to Prologis Park at Ryton.

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