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Council reveals timeline of ‘come to Birmingham’ meetings with Aston Martin

Council reveals timeline of ‘come to Birmingham’ meetings with Aston Martin

🕔03.Mar 2016

Officials at Birmingham city council held a series of ultimately fruitless meetings with Aston Martin towards the end of last year in an effort to persuade the iconic car manufacturer to move to Minworth in Sutton Coldfield.

A breakdown released by the council lists five meetings and a conference call between the beginning of September and the end of November 2015, followed by a final meeting on February 2 2016, three weeks before Aston Martin announced it would base its second manufacturing facility in Wales.

The list only identifies participants from the council side and does not reveal which Aston Martin executives were at the meetings.

The sessions involved an almost complete absence of elected cabinet members, apart from former council leader Sir Albert Bore, who met Aston Martin just once on November 13 along with Paul Dransfield, the council’s strategic director for the economy, and Neil Rami, the chief executive of Marketing Birmingham.

Just over two weeks later, on November 30, the council’s head of property Peter Jones met Aston Martin along with Mr Dransfield, Mr Rami and development officer Ian MacLeod. A day later, Sir Albert was succeeded as council leader by John Clancy.

Only one meeting with the car firm was held after Cllr Clancy became leader, and that was on February 2 when Mr Rami and Mr MacLeod were the sole Birmingham representatives in attendance.

The first meeting between the council and Aston Martin was on September 3 last year some 18 months after the car firm began talking to the Welsh government about the St Athan site in Glamorgan that was eventually chosen as the manufacturing base.

The initial meeting involved Mr MacLeod and Wouter Schuitemaker, former investment director at Marketing Birmingham. The two were at a second meeting three days later and at a third session on September 29 when they were joined by Basit Ali from the council’s property services department.

Mr Rami and Mr Dransfield took part in a conference call with Aston Martin on October 13.

The final meeting with Aston Martin, on February 2, was attended by Mr MacLeod and Mr Rami.

Aston Martin said in a statement that it had considered 20 sites across the world but were “consistently impressed with the focus on quality, cost and speed from the Welsh Government team”.

It is unclear whether the Welsh government was able to offer financial subsidies to Aston Martin that would not have been available to Birmingham city council.

As a consolation, the West Midlands will still benefit from Aston Martin’s decision to base production of its next generation of sports cars at Gaydon in Warwickshire.

It is anticipated that up to 1,000 new jobs will be created across the sites in Glamorgan and Gaydon between now and 2020. Across the supply chain and local businesses, a further 3,000 jobs will likely be created as a direct result of these investments.

Aston Martin will commence production in the autumn at Gaydon of the new DB11, the replacement for the iconic DB9 and the first car to be launched under the company’s Second Century plan.

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