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Land Rover

More than 1,000 signatures have been added in the last 24 hours to a Downing Street petition calling on the government to provide targeted assistance to Jaguar Land Rover. The Stirrer urges readers of this website to add their names – but with a caveat.

Anyone who lives in the West Midlands will know the importance of JLR to the region – and they are part of a £50billion industry reckoned to employ 850,000 people across the country.

Saving manufacturing jobs and preserving high value engineering skills in Castle Bromwich, Solihull Coventry and elsewhere is arguably as important as bailing out the failed banks who precipitated the recession in the first place.

Our only note of caution rests with the word “targeted”.

As we reported a couple of days ago, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce indicated that its interpretation of state aid involves the government butting out at the earliest opportunity (see link here ).

We take a different view. If the government is splashing taxpayers cash it should only do so with strings attached – and in the expectation of a decent return.

That means – if you’ll pardon the pun – steering both Landy and The Jag towards a future where both brands continue to be relevant.

Land Rover has for too long been associated with making “gas guzzling Chelsea Ttactors - in the face of government policy, and against the grain of the times.

The need for diversification has been apparent for years, but management have found that (ahem) reverse gear curiously absent. The company needs radical change, and unless that is accepted as a given can not seriously expect to be bailed out.

Jaguar hasn’t made money for years. We trust that at some point in the future it will. If not, then there’s no point making cars that no one wants – no matter how prestigious.

In the meantime, cash should not be given to its Indian owners unless they give legally binding guarantees that production won’t be shifted abroad.

The government should also retain a share, commensurate with it's investment in the JLR group, so that any dividends can be returned to the Exchequer down the years.

We agree there should be no simple bailout – but nor should the whims of the market be allowed to jeopardise vital skills and jobs and our collective economic well being.

To sign the petition, click here


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