It was a momentous year for the British car industry. Sir Michael
Edwardes (above), the new broom brought in by the Government to
sort out British Leyland, won an overwhelming seven-to-one vote
in favour of his survival plan in November.
The plan meant closing BL plants and axing 25,000 jobs but it
was seen as the only way of slimming down the strike-ridden company
which had an appalling record for poor models and wretched quality.
A beaming Sir Michael said after the ballot result was announced:
"We think this is the clearest possible evidence that the overwhelming
majority of employees are behind the company and behind the plans."
The tough-talking boss went on: "If any manager, shop steward
or other employee doesn't like the heat of the kitchen, now is the
time to get out."
The ballot result, showing 106,062 employees in favour of the
restructuring and only 15,541 against, was welcomed by suppliers
throughout the West Midlands.
At Darlaston, John Owen, deputy chairman of Rubery Owen, declared:
"This is a vote for common sense which we hope will lead to the
revival of BL, with all that implies for employment prospects in
the West Midlands."
He had earlier warned his group's 11,000 workers that if the Edwardes
plans was rejected then BL might fail and the components industry
would face the prospect of having to move overseas.
triumphant:The Tories swept past Jim Callaghan's
Labour government winning 339 seats to Labour's 268, bringing to
power the country's first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
The victory was the prelude to a further 18 years of Conservative
Landlocked firm wins award for fishy exports . . . The coveted
Queen's Award for Industry went to one of the most unlikely contenders.
Sea Products International, based in land-locked Birmingham, got
one of the 102 awards presented in April 1979 for exporting fish
Despite being about as far from the sea at it is possible to get,
the firm was busy dispatching 4 million worth of products every
year to France, Belgium, Germany and the United States.
"It may surprise many people," commented managing director Mr
R M Ackrill, "that fish is playing an important role earning valuable
foreign currency for Britain."
Woden Transformer of Bilston, with exports making up 60 per cent
of its sales, also received the Queen's Award during the year.
Wolves boss injured in car crash: Wolves manager John Barnwell
was in hospital with serious head injuries in April after a road accident
38-year-old was "comfortable but poorly" in the Derbyshire Royal
Infirmary after his car struck a crash barrier near Allestree.
He later underwent an operation for a depressed fracture of the
skull but made a quick and complete recovery.
No milk today: More than 70,000 homes in Staffordshire went
without milk in August when deliverymen walked out on strike after
a colleague was sacked for taking a child on his float.
The 240 milkmen employed by Clover Dairies called an immediate
strike when they heard their workmate had been dismissed.
The firm, based in Stoke, pointed out that it had introduced a
rule 10 months earlier banning the carrying of children on floats
Ale and hearty: Dudley could soon be flooded with tourists
as the world capital of real ale, according to an upbeat report in
August by the Heart of England Tourist Board.
The board's officials were over the moon about the town's "considerable
potential" for tourism.
"With more small breweries than anywhere else of comparable size,
Dudley must be the real-ale capital of Britain," said board director
Cliff still a rock juvenile . . . From the Express & Star
of November 1, 1979, a caption that could have appeared at almost
any time in the past 30 years:
"That ageing but ever popular rock 'n' roll juvenile, Cliff Richard,
is playing three dates at Birmingham . . ."
charity quiz between the town's top indoor sportsmen and Wolverhampton
sporting celebrities raised 30 towards a colour TV for a Penn children's
home in May. Pictured, from left, are Olympic swimmer Anita Lonsbrough,
cyclist Hugh Porter, broadcaster Pat Foley, footballer and journalist
Gary Matthews and cricketer Rachael Heyhoe-Flint
News in brief . . . Mechanics working for West Midlands Police
were offered a cash settlement if they called off action in August
which had put one third of police vehicles off the road.
Also in August, prostitutes working in Wolverhampton and Stoke
on Trent were said to be swapping red light areas with each other
to avoid prosecution