Sunday 12th March 2017
Lucy Allan, Conservative MP for Telford
It is clear that the Midlands Engine is an exciting and prosperous new idea which has emerged just at the right time. We saw, last year, during the Chancellor’s autumn statement, the Government making a commitment to investing in the Midlands and setting out its strong ambition to make the area an engine for growth for the UK economy. I believe that the Midlands should be and can be Britain’s engine for growth, and my constituency of Telford is a perfect example of this.
Telford is the fastest growing town in the Midlands and has built a reputation for being a preferred location for manufacturing and advanced manufacturing. It is already home to several of the world’s most recognised car parts and automotive corporations and continues to see more inward investment in the area. Across all sectors, such as technology, manufacturing, engineering and electronics, Telford has proven itself to be a frontrunner and is the driving force which turns the wheels of the growth engine in the Midlands.
Although, today, Telford is a major economic force in the West Midlands, like much of the region it has struggled in recent decades. In the 1960s, the blast furnaces were blown out. In the 1970s, the last collieries closed. It was hit by the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, with record unemployment, and again by the great recession of 2008-09. The solution has always been to think big, work hard and keep going. That attitude ensures that the town continues to overcome obstacles and find solutions to problems.
Telford is an extraordinary and vibrant new town and has adapted, innovated and evolved to become a leader in cutting edge technology and advanced manufacturing. It has grown, and continues to grow, in the heart of Shropshire. It is expected that by 2025, its population will have increased by a further 23 per cent. As the local population continues to grow, getting Telford better connected remains a major priority to ensure its continued contribution to the Midlands engine. That is why I was pleased to see the Chancellor allocate £5 million for a Birmingham rail hub which will boost not only Telford’s continued economic growth but that of the Midlands as a whole. It is important that investment into the Midlands benefits the towns surrounding the cities.
As Telford continues to grow and evolve, inward international investment does the same. At the heart of the local growth engine in Telford is the T54 development park. Recently, a major Canadian owned manufacturing giant, Magna – Cosma, confirmed that it would be investing in a high tech car parts plant on this site. As Telford’s MP, I was pleased to help secure that contract by working with the Homes and Communities Agency.
That project will be the largest automotive development in the West Midlands and will see the creation of 300 skilled local jobs. The facility is representative of Telford’s ability to attract new business and paves the way for further investment. Indeed, further proof is that Austrian company Polytec Group has become the latest company to submit plans to build a factory on the T54 business park, which could create another 240 jobs. That again demonstrates the value of our reputation as a global player for advanced manufacturing.
Telford is a major player in the Midlands and has the right resources for meeting needs of advanced high-tech development, but we must not forget about the hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses that are part of those manufacturing and engineering supply chains, who also play their part in powering the Midlands engine.
So as we move together, towards change, as one engine, the values which Telford holds dear should be mirrored across the region and throughout the country. As Telford has done, we should embrace new opportunities and seek renewed optimism over fear. We should embrace the ability to press a reset button and to start again. That is what Telford has done over the years with high aspirations that have reached new markets, boosted growth and development, created highly skilled jobs and contributed to building an economy that works for everyone.
Telford truly is a growth engine in its own right, and I am so proud to be its representative. The Midlands Engine is developing and growing and anyone who wants evidence of this need look no further than Telford.