This paper explores the socio-economic impacts and associated policy responses to the collapse of MG Rover at Longbridge in Birmingham. Critically, it attempts to move beyond a ‘standard’ taskforce narrative that emphasizes the role of the regional response. While recognizing that significant policy ‘successes’ were indeed evident at the regional level in anticipating and responding to the crisis, a wider perspective is required that situates this taskforce response in (1) a fuller understanding of labour market precariousness (that in turn mitigates some of its policy ‘successes’), and (2) more local perspectives that highlight the local impacts of closure, the role of the neighbourhood level officials and the third sector in mediating these. Taking this broader perspective suggests that longer-term, workers face a precarious situation and the need for policies to create and sustain ‘good quality’ jobs remains paramount. Adding in more local perspectives, a key lesson from the Longbridge experience for dealing with closures more generally is that the public policy responses must be: multidimensional in that they transcend narrow sector-based concerns and addresses broader spatial impacts; inclusive in that they build on a broad coalition of economic and social stakeholders; and long-term in that they acknowledge that adaptation takes many years. If anything, the Birmingham Longbridge experience demonstrates the difficulty of achieving such responses in the context of crisis where action is imperative and deliberation a luxury.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Regional Studies, Regional Science on 17/4/14, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/21681376.2014.899477
Funding: ESRC [RES-000-22-2478)
- plant closures
- labour market policy
- neighbourhood effects