Common sense can sometimes be in short supply in politics, and in the last week one simple matter of fact statement stood out for me. It came from Wayne Jones who sits on Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership, which is a voluntary partnership to help determine local economic priorities. He said: “Without a successful manufacturing sector,” he warned, “we will not have a successful balanced economy”.
That’s not just true in terms of helping narrow the gap between the South East and the rest of the country but it’s also a critical measure of how Rochdale is faring. If we are going to create more jobs, build economic prosperity and generate confidence to attract investors then we need manufacturing to be firing on all cylinders.
I am starting to see encouraging signs that manufacturing in Rochdale is edging towards a renaissance after what has undoubtedly been a difficult few years.
Nationally things are still pretty tough and output was down in January, which is why we need a solid and supportive Budget from the Chancellor this month not one throwing around silly pre-election bribes. But here in Rochdale we’re showing real signs of a proper recovery and we now have lots of successful manufacturing stories.
We have seen car products manufacturer Tetrosyl relocate its headquarters from Bury to Rochdale. Specialist spring supplier Hanson Springs is expanding and creating new jobs after being awarded over £1million of regional growth fund money. PDS in Littleborough, a major supplier to the UK construction sector, is going from strength to strength. Taylor Engineering & Plastics is the UK leader in thermoplastic and thermoset technology and Holroyd Precision is a globally ranked company exporting ultra high precision grinding machines around the world.
There are lots of highly skilled companies here doing remarkable things. Salt Separation Services, based off Oldham Road, for example, has delivered big contracts for the likes of the Royal Navy, installing equipment on aircraft carriers that enables them to turn more than a million litres of sea water into drinking water every day.
Rochdale really is a place where things are made and a highly skilled workforce adds enormous value to industries all over the world. We need to celebrate this more, so that it’s seen as a key part of our Borough identity. Britain’s manufacturing success is critical to securing a proper sustainable recovery that’s not reliant on property bubbles and cheap credit. And Rochdale can help play a part in achieving this.