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Bombardier- Derby’s Liberal Democrats rally behind ‘Jobs for Derby’

July 24, 2011 7:39 PM
By Richard Hudson and Steve Coltman
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

A student's perspective

Local Liberal Democrat party activists and councillors joined the 10,000 strong march through Derby City Centre. All extremely frustrated at the proposed decision to award the Thames link contract to Siemens opposed to Bombardier in Derby. The number of jobs to be effected is estimated at somewhere between 3,000 to 10,000, with 1,400 jobs already earmarked to go.The march itself consisted of various trade unions, the Labour Party and a healthy turnout of Liberal Democrats. This issue which effects the people of Derbyshire is therefore not confined to party lines. Perhaps thanks to this there was no trouble at all between different affiliations. In fact along the march all affiliations were all united in chanting and singing.

In response to the current government choosing Siemens as the 'preferred bidder' there was undoubtedly a strong anti-government theme in the speeches after the march. Which was a shame since this was not supposed to be a political party rally. This is not an issue to be used to score political points. However, Margaret Beckett MP for Derby South did make the comment "Blame us [Labour] for the tender process" to the large crowd. This did however fall on deaf ears to the largely trade union and Labour presence.

People of all persuasions should unite to make sure Bombardier stays open here in Derby. This is not about politics; it is about securing jobs and skilled professions for our future generations.

A Senior Engineer's Perspective

"There is little reason to disagree with any of the speakers - but it is worth repeating one thing. This contest between Bombardier and Siemens was not about how good a train they could design, or how efficiently they could build it, it was about finance. This is a Private Finance Initiative and, for various reasons, Siemens have access to cheaper credit than Bombardier have, and this seems to give Siemens a built-in advantage. Unless they were completely incompetent, the previous Transport Secretary and his civil servants must have realised they had set Bombardier up to lose. They must have been able to envisage the consequences of Bombardier losing and so they have set up a tender that was bound to end in a way that was not in the national interest. Someone at the DfT has some explaining to do.

This country is in dire financial trouble, and we live in a fiercely competitive world. We have both a budget deficit and a balance of trade deficit. The last thing this country needs is the loss of practically the entire train-making industry. A line has to be drawn in the sand - and it might as well be here, and now.

Phillip Hammond should be open with everyone and lay his cards on the table. We need to know what all the options are, even if they are unpalatable ones. In particular we need to examine the option of scrapping the whole tender process and re-opening it on a non -PFI basis. PFI is a bad idea anyway, an expensive way of buying something and getting our children to pay for it.

Finally, it may be about time the three major parties got together and talked about putting together a proper industrial strategy for this country. Put aside for a moment the things we disagree about and concentrate on where we do agree. Politicians of all three parties have spoken of the need for a stronger manufacturing sector. Ministers come and go and so do governments, but industry needs a well thought out and consistently-applied strategy to bring this about. Time to get together and get something sorted. We cannot allow the decline to continue, or this country will slowly decline into poverty, with a grim outlook for future generations"