Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Car makers lukewarm over bailout

Jaguar cars
Jaguar Land Rover said it was "looking forward" to seeing the detailed plans

Car makers in the West Midlands have given a mixed reaction to news of a potential 2.3bn tax payer bailout for the industry.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson outlined plans which would include up to 1bn in government loans.

The proposals are expected to help firms such as Warwickshire-based Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover which has plants across the West Midlands.

However, critics said the amount of money being discussed was not enough.

Aston Martin, in Gaydon, Warwickshire, announced 600 job losses - a third of its workforce - in December.

Jaguar Land Rover, with plants in Castle Bromwich, Solihull, Coventry and Gaydon, cut 450 jobs earlier this month and has severely cut back on production.

Digger maker JCB, in Rocester, Staffordshire, cut nearly 700 jobs in December.

In Birmingham, van maker LDV lost 95 jobs in November and has not yet set a date for production to restart.

LDV spokesman Guy Jones said the announcement could be "significant" for the company's future.

However, he said he could not say it was the promise the company had been waiting for.

'Absolutely critical'

A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover said the company was "looking forward" to finding out more detail about the government's plans.

He added that it was "absolutely critical" that Britain continued to have a "strong and highly-skilled" workforce.

Peter Mandleson

Jim Cunningham, Labour MP for Coventry South, said thousands of jobs across Coventry and the West Midlands would depend on what the government did next.

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce welcomed the announcement but said it would have liked to have seen the government make it easier for car buyers to get credit.

Its president Peter Mathews said: "The manufacturing sector is holding up the economy as best it can in the face of the problems caused by the global financial institutions.

"But industry is looking to the government to play its part in supporting the manufacturing sector and the automotive sector in particular."

Peter Luff, the Conservative MP for Mid-Worcestershire, which is home to several vehicle components firms, said the actions "fell well-short of the industry's expectations".

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