German company providing West Midlands bike share scheme sparks criticism - The Solihull Observer

German company providing West Midlands bike share scheme sparks criticism

Solihull Editorial 23rd Mar, 2018 Updated: 24th Mar, 2018   0

A GERMAN company building bicycles for a West Midlands bike share scheme has prompted anger.

Liberal Democrats have hit out at West Midlands mayor Andy Street and transport advisors at Transport for West Midlands, (TfWM), after they opted for German-made nextbikes for the region’s first bike share scheme.

They accused them of ignoring long-established Midlands bicycle manufacturers Dawes in Castle Bromwich and Pashley in Stratford. Pashley is already producing London’s Santander cycles, previously nicknamed Boris Bikes.

Lib Dems say the move took no account of local jobs and investment, and it was yet another blow for the region’s manufacturing sector ahead of Brexit.

Areas across the West Midlands will benefit from over 2,000 ‘congestion busting’ bikes by September according to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). A further 3,000 bikes will be rolled out in phases across Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Solihull by 2019.

Dominic Skinner, Lib-Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Stratford, said: “It is ironic that our own local business is producing Santander’s new bikes for London, but that their ‘home city’, Birmingham, has opted to purchase bikes from Germany.

“It is hard to fathom this decision as we enter Brexit Britain where ‘taking back control’ and being able to source more locally to drive local investment, local jobs and a circular economy was ostensibly part of the rationale for this decision.”

Solihull borough Lib Dem spokesperson Coun Ade Adeyemo called it a “slap in the face” for West Midlands businesses.

He added: “This short-sighted decision to award the bike-production contract to a Leipzig-based company sends out all the wrong signals at a time when so many local businesses are under pressure and facing uncertainty about the future.

“I am shocked that local companies based here in the West Midlands have been overlooked in favour of a German competitor.”

Pashley Cycles general manager Steve Bell was equally unhappy at the award of the contract to Germany.

He said: “Having the bikes built in our factory in Stratford would have generated a further ten new jobs which will now be based in Leipzig. Buying these bikes from Germany is essentially supporting the German Mittelstand (smaller businesses) and turning our back on our own hard pressed medium-sized businesses here in the Midlands.

“We are a family-owned company investing in sourcing UK made goods, made by local people.

“With Brexit just around the corner we need to support our own companies, not at a higher cost of course, but at the

same or better value for money than those sourced overseas.”

The bike share controversy comes in the same week questions were raised over government plans for British passports to be manufactured in France.

A West Midlands Combined Authority spokesperson said: “Pashley make exceptional bikes and are a fantastic example of high quality West Midlands manufacturing.

“However, a key element of our requirement was that the scheme should fully integrate with our wider tram, train and bus network by using the Swift travel smartcard to hire the bikes.

“Pashley were aligned with a rival bidder whose offer did not integrate Swift but instead proposed a separate payment system in addition to a mobile phone app.

“This bid was also heavily focused on Birmingham rather than the wider West Midlands, and offered a lower number of bikes – around 3,000, compared to the 5,000 proposed by the winning bid.

“The successful nextbike bid also met the Swift requirement and offered a much lower hire charge for people using the bikes.

“bike-share will create 50 new jobs in this region, and we will be partnering with the Steps to Work charity in Walsall to help fill those roles, working with long-term unemployed and young people currently not in education or employment.”


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