Former minister calls for Gigafactory to be built in Coventry

The Coventry-born former politician said Coventry, the home of British automotive innovation”, was the natural location for a Gigafactory.

A former Minister has called on the Government to back Midlands manufacturing as the region looks to recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Margot James, the former MP and Minister for Digital and Creative Industries, was speaking in her role as Executive Chair of WMG, an academic department at the University of Warwick that is driving innovation in STEM fields, on the local Chamber of Commerce’s recent #PolicyHour call.

Ms James, who was raised in Coventry, said manufacturers needed more support in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the Government could stimulate both the sector and the region by securing crucial research and development jobs.

She also called on the Government to deliver on its manifesto pledge to build a Gigafactory, adding that Coventry would be a natural location for the investment, describing the city as “the home of British automotive innovation”.

Though Coventry lost out to south Wales on a bid to be the location of the UK’s first Gigafactory, there are still hopes the region could see one built.

The factory, which would make batteries for electric vehicles, would add to the region’s pull as a centre for automotive excellence.

“It’s not about simply protecting what we have, it’s about looking to the future”, said Ms James.

She James also insisted that “manufacturing needs more backing“.

She explained how she is working with Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, to “ask Government to support R&D jobs in manufacturing.”

“If we can protect those jobs, we are protecting the future of a very important industry for the UK and for this region.

“Sales are slowly recovering but investment hasn’t recovered and that is where Government support is vitally needed.”

Sean Rose, from the Chamber of Commerce, commented that “there is no doubt that the manufacturing sector needs more support”, adding that he was “delighted to welcome Margot James onto the call”.