Union urges public sector to buy UK-made cars

22 May 2012

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22 May 2012 | Anna Scott

Union Unite is calling for public bodies to buy cars locally after it emerged that 72 per cent of vehicles purchased by police authorities in the UK are manufactured overseas.

A freedom of information request by the union found that Merseyside police bought 11.5 per cent of its vehicles from UK-based manufacturers, of which 8 per cent were from the local Vauxhall plant. Wiltshire police, meanwhile, purchased just 2 per cent of their vehicles from UK-based manufacturers.

Unite has published a 10-point plan aimed at building on the recent successes in the UK automotive industry, including General Motors' decision to manufacture the Astra at Nissan's plant at Ellesmere Port. 

The document, entitled Driving Growth, calls for central government to have a positive procurement policy to buy vehicles manufactured in the UK, as well as for the creation of a diverse supplier base within the UK to support manufacturing in the motor industry. The union is also calling for the government to acknowledge the role the Automotive Council plays in working extensively to promote the UK motor industry and its supply chain. Set up in 2009 and co-chaired by former chief technical officer of Ford Motor Company Richard Parry-Jones and business secretary Vince Cable, the council aims to build links between government and the UK automotive industry.

According to Unite’s plan, local enterprise partnerships between authorities and businesses to drive economic growth are not working and should be replaced with a system for regional development aid and assistance. The government scrapped regional development agencies in March this year.

“The UK needs to build on the current success of the automotive industry, learn lessons and apply them to other manufacturing sectors, which are struggling because of a government which does not do enough,” said Tony Murphy, Unite’s national officer. “We need a strategic investment bank for manufacturing and the government has created untold problems by scrapping regional development funds.”

Unite national officer Roger Maddison added: “The government could boost demand at a stroke by introducing a procurement strategy to support UK motor manufacturing. It is outrageous that 72 per cent of police vehicles are built outside the UK.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said: “In November last year, the government announced that it would adopt a more strategic approach to procurement, publishing information on future tenders and then working with industry to identify capabilities needed to safeguard UK competitiveness and growth.”

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