It was back to the shop floor the other day when I visited the Whitley Plant of Jaguar Land Rover. In my role as Cabinet member for Jobs and Regeneration on Coventry City Council, I was accompanied by my colleague and deputy Cllr David Welsh to see for ourselves the work which goes on there. I have to say, I was both impressed and surprised.
Impressed, by the sheer diversity of the work which is going on there and surprised by the sheer numbers of employees. Coming from the manufacturing side of car building, I was a little sceptical if I am honest about the numbers of employees needed for some Research and Development which is a core of the business at Whitley. I needn’t have been!
3,500 people work on site and you can see as soon as you walk in that they need more space. People everywhere, carrying lap tops and having meetings in corridors and restaurants. On top of that, you come across product stored in corridors on pallets because they literally have nowhere else to put them.
Research and Development is key to any success for a company of the size and reach of JLR. It embeds product design here in Coventry and leads the way for further expansion of new products around the world.
However, they do far more than that at Whitley! They have a whole production line of prototype cars which will lead to full production in the near future. They have a whole department for demonstration cars for the media and press to test cars for reviews in magazines and TV programmes. Housed at Whitley as well is what is known as their power train. This is where engines, transmissions, drive shafts and differentials are tested to destruction to ensure their quality and reliability. This is really crucial these days as JLR now manufacture their own engines here in the West Midlands.
So, as you can see, the company are expanding not only in size but also in what it does right here in Coventry. That’s why I have agreed, on behalf of Coventry City Council, to help the company expand on their current site and surrounding area, which will give them the space they need to grow. This will be beneficial to the quality not only of the site but also to the products they are developing and building. It will also mean new jobs coming to Coventry, something we desperately need in our city.