Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2010 16:21 UK

Stoke-on-Trent 'needs government help'

Wade pottery
Manufacturing needs to be nutured, the managing director of Wade says

Business leaders in Stoke-on-Trent say they want the next government to focus on restoring manufacturing in the city.

The ceramics industry has suffered a steep decline over the past few years due to cheap imports from abroad and a fall in demand.

The city has been neglected, North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce said.

Candidates in the city's Central seat have suggested investing in education and in green and high-tech industries and cutting regulation.

I've worked in manufacturing all my working life and I genuinely believe that the government has to find ways and means to help manufacturing re-establish itself
Paul Farmer, managing director of Wade

Recent figures suggest that about 19% of private sector jobs have been lost in Stoke-in-Trent during the last decade - the highest level anywhere in the UK, Midlands Today correspondent Peter Plisner said.

But the city is still home to well-known pottery manufacturers Spode, Biltons, Portmeirion and Wade.

Paul Farmer, managing director of Wade, said a successful manufacturing industry was vital to a country's economy.

"Manufacturing is the engine room of any country in my opinion," he said.

"I've worked in manufacturing all my working life and I genuinely believe that the government has to find ways and means to help manufacturing re-establish itself."

Bryan Carnes, from North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "We'd like any new government taking note of Stoke-on-Trent.

'Rebuild reputation'

"It's been neglected by the parties for far too long."

Norsheen Bhatti, Conservative candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central, said the right type of training was one option.

"We need to move away from Labour's reliance on financial services and more towards investing in high-technologies and exports," she said.

"We also need to train people so that they have got the right skills to do the jobs."

Rebuilding the city's reputation would be the focus for Labour's Tristram Hunt.

He said: "They key to helping manufacturing is investing in education and schools and also selling Stoke nationally and internationally as a place to invest."

'Cut out imports'

John Redfern, Liberal Democrat candidate, said making the city a hub for green industries was his party's answer.

"We'd cut out regulation on business and we intend to make Stoke the centre for the new green industries which are going to be the next big thing in the 21 Century."

For the British National Party, stopping cheap imports is the way to help reinvigorate the once vibrant industry.

Candidate Simon Darby said: "It's very important that any business thinking of investing here in Stoke-on-Trent has the guarantee that that business isn't going to be undermined by cheap, foreign imports.

"Because, if they don't have that guarantee, the process of de-industrialisation will just continue."

The seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central had been held by Labour's Mark Fisher since 1983.

In 2005 he secured 52.9% of the vote and a majority of 9,774.

Last month he announced his intention to stand down at the election because of illness.

The other candidates currently standing in Stoke-on-Trent Central are: Carol Lovatt, UK Independence Party, Independent Gary Elsby and Matthew Wright with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition party.

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