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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April 2005, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
'We want some answers'
By Emma Griffiths
BBC News, at Downing Street

Trevor Prosser and his partner Lisa Daniels have postponed their wedding.

Sewa Chana and his wife Gurder are worried about their mortgage and children's university costs.

Lisa Daniels, Trevor Prosser and their son Connor
Trevor Prosser and Lisa Daniels have postponed their wedding
Jo Wardell doesn't know if she can start buying things for her pregnant daughter.

All headed down to London from Birmingham on Wednesday to take the fight to save jobs at MG Rover to the heart of government - 10 Downing Street.

Not that any seemed to be holding the prime minister responsible.

The protesters said they were blaming a variety of other people - including previous Rover owners BMW, Phoenix Venture Holdings which bought the firm from BMW - and, in one family's case, Margaret Thatcher.

The campaigners - largely workers' partners and children - are all desperate to save 6,000 jobs at the Longbridge site and are putting their faith in Tony Blair to rescue a deal with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.

Rover is the Midlands, we want to save the jobs, something's got to be done
Protester Mary Hale

"We are all behind Tony Blair, if he had known what was going on things would have been very different," said Mary Hale, whose son-in-law has worked at Longbridge for 17 years.

She travelled to London with her daughter Geraldine Pearson and nine-week-old grandson Jason.

"Rover is the Midlands, we want to save the jobs, something's got to be done."

Tourist attraction

Mrs Pearson, 39, had been through a "really dreadful" week but said it was important for Rover workers' families to show support.

Gemma Cartwright
Organiser Gemma Cartwright fielded reporters' questions
"I think the men haven't any fight left in them, with what's been happening over the years," she said.

"We want to save British industry and British cars... rather than all working at McDonalds."

Despite an early start, it was gone midday before three coachloads of Longbridge families arrived at Downing Street, thanks to some heavy congestion on the M40.

They were soon causing some minor congestion of their own on the busy pavements of Whitehall, being photographed by tourists with camera phones as they waited for three mothers to deliver their protest letter to the prime minister.

They had hoped for 100 people but with only days to organise the event and school and work commitments to be met, the number was nearer 60.

If they close Rover there's no jobs for the young lads when they leave school
Protester Carol Cross
They are all living with the uncertainty over jobs at the plant, and say all the workers want to do is keep on working.

Those workers are already feeling the effects. Mr Prosser, 37, and Ms Daniels, from Wolverhampton, decided to put off their wedding while the uncertainty continues.

"We want some answers, are they going to keep the jobs - what's really happening?," said Ms Daniels.

Carol Cross, 53, whose husband Adrian has worked at Longbridge for 26 years, said: "We just want Mr Blair to know they want the jobs, they don't want redundancy.

"There's hardly anything in Birmingham for the youngsters now, if they close Rover there's no jobs for the young lads when they leave school."

Media spotlight

Fresh from his visit to the royal wedding on Saturday, campaigner Ray Egan, dressed up as the personification of all things British - John Bull, also made the trip down from his home in Harborne, Birmingham, to lend his support.

"John Bull" - aka Ray Egan
British campaigner Ray Egan was there to lend his support
Most protesters returned to their coaches before the three granted entry to Number 10 came out again and walked to the Department of Trade and Industry.

They made their way there in the middle of a crowd of cameramen, answering questions from reporters while trying to keep a grip on their children.

At the DTI they met Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who offered them a cup of tea before saying the government was doing everything it could to save jobs.

One of the women, Sue Hooper, whose partner Chris Macdonald has worked at Longbridge for 20 years, said: "I will do everything in my power to keep Rover and its workers together and will go to China if necessary."


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