Goodyear closure: Another nail in industry coffin

There is no way to disguise how serious this is," says Professor Michael Haynes.

Goodyear closure: Another nail in industry coffin

"The loss of the major Goodyear operation will be huge not only for the workers and their families but for the city."

Economics and industry experts today described Goodyear's closure in Wolverhampton as 'nationally significant' and 'another nail in the coffin' for manufacturing in the Black Country.

Professor Michael Haynes

They said the region was already in danger of becoming 'an industrial museum'.

Professor Haynes, head of the management research centre at the University of Wolverhampton, continued: "The issue is not simply economic. It is also about the message that it sends when a flagship employer with a global brand cuts back and abandons production.

"This is of national significance for a government committed to what George Osborne called the 'march of the makers'.

"Locally it will add to the sense that in a patchy local economic recovery there is still too much of forced manufacturing retreat.

"The ripple effects of this will be considerable. They will take time to work through.

"This will make the task of those working to prevent the Black Country becoming even more of an industrial museum all the more difficult."

Mr Haynes added it was vital to sustain manufacturing business in the Black Country.

"It would be a fundamental mistake to give up on manufacturing, you look at Europe, especially Germany, one of the reasons it does well is it has a very strong manufacturing base," he adds.

Hands-on – during the tyre-making process

"One of the things that you don't do if you want to improve the productivity of an area is get rid of some of the best performing companies."

His comments were echoed by Duncan Adam from the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick.

"If you look at the contrast between JLR and here it is certainly possible for a manufacturing company to operate in the Midlands," he says.

"But as to what the Black Country does going forward is a very difficult question. But you can clearly see that investing in skills and facilities like JLR, manufacturing is entirely possible in this country and in Wolverhampton." Mr Adam said the news of the closure of the site, and the loss of 330 jobs had not come as a surprise.

"The land in Wolverhampton has become increasingly peripheral in terms of the company's global operations," he says.

Generations have been employed at Goodyear

"Going back 25 years it was the European centre, the site on Stafford Road was huge. You can just see that it was going downhill and because it no longer manufactures any tyres, the long-term viability was always going to be compromised.

"I am not really surprised, however I do understand that it was still profitable so the question becomes 'why did they do it now?'.

"It's another nail in the coffin of the manufacturing business within the West Midlands.

"We talk about it having a history of manufacturing – it's increasingly that.

"Symbolically it is very sad for the city. Goodyear has been there for a long time, it was shirt sponsor of the football team so there is a clear tie, a symbolic emotional tie. This site was huge, it was very visible, it is no longer like that anymore, but at the time it was a huge imposing site."

Ninder Johal, president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said the closure was a blow at a time when industry was growing across the region.

"The automotive and aerospace industry is doing well," he said. "This is very sad news at Goodyear but we remain hopeful that the majority of staff will be able to find alternative options.

"It is the end of an era. Changes always happen in the business world, but change is not a good thing in this instance.

"A great deal of work has gone on to make the area an appealing place for businesses to operate.

"We want that to continue. While no-one wants to see this plant go we have to look to the future.

"Obviously this is serious, this closure is 300 jobs. You can't reduce the impact of that. The good thing is it is happening in 2017 so it gives us a good chance to deploy some of the areas.

"This area has got a growth rate of 4.5 per cent, JLR is expanding at the Wolverhampton plant so they are going to be taking people on.

"We have the most successful enterprise zone, we are going to get more devolved powers hopefully from central government. In 2017 I am hoping some of those jobs will be deployed.

"I am not detracting that it is appalling news, but in 15 years time we will look back and say this is a great region."

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