Walsall Labour is urging Council chiefs to grab the opportunity to bring well paid, long term jobs to the borough by forging links to Jaguar Rover £355 million investment in the Black Country .
Labour group leader, Councillor Tim Oliver, warned the chance to win skilled manufacturing jobs to Walsall could be lost because plans for the Local Enterprise Zone sites in Darlaston and Pleck are focused on warehouse and distribution businesses.
His call came as local Labour councillors called a residents’ meeting at Darlaston Town Hall on Thurs 12 Jan at 6pm.
Cllr Oliver called for a wide ranging consultation on how to bring high quality jobs to the Borough.
“Walsall Labour acknowledges that the award of a Local Enterprise Zone does have potential to bring forward employment and skills opportunities to the Borough and to local communities
“The problem with the present approach is that we could end up with a concentration on ‘pick ‘em and pack ’em’ firms requiring low or semi skilled jobs which can be easily shipped out to other areas when it suits…
“Jaguar Rover’s plans, which are central of the Black Country Enterprise Zone ,are sustainable, hand highly skilled and long term. It’s these sorts of jobs we need to attract. In Walsall we already have engineering firms with a track record in the automotive industry and we must build on that.
“This would also help narrow the gap in earning that sees Walsall people paid £73 less a week than the national average
He also warned that local companies may move onto the Darlaston and Pleck sites from other areas in the borough to benefit from tax and business rates benefits without creating new jobs.
“Unless there is clear leadership and strategic direction now, we believe there is a real danger that the Local Enterprise Zone could backfire on the borough as firms with low set-up costs switch their operations, destroying other opportunities for development in local centres such as Willenhall and Bloxwich and leading to an overall reduction rather than growth in job numbers.”