Birmingham & Black Country

Dunlop decided to leave Birmingham 'months ago'

Image caption Dunlop will close its Birmingham factory after 125 years of manufacturing tyres in the city

The leader of Birmingham City Council has accused tyre maker Dunlop of reaching a decision to close its Erdington factory "months ago".

Sir Albert Bore said the firm had been "less than transparent" about its intentions despite the council's efforts to find an alternative site.

On Monday Dunlop announced it would leave its site on 1 September.

The firm said it would have preferred to stay in the city, but could not move to a new site in time.

Speaking to BBC Radio WM, Sir Albert said he had been in talks with Dunlop "on and off" since last May.

He said the firm had appeared willing to consider opportunities in Birmingham at a meeting with Business Secretary Vince Cable and Erdington Labour MP Jack Dromey last week.

'Long time coming'

"They have been telling us one thing, but behind the scenes they've been doing something else," he said.

Sir Albert said he felt Dunlop had planned a move to one of its existing European facilities since negotiations began.

"I am absolutely convinced this decision was taken months and months ago and they have been less than transparent about it.

"This idea that a site is not available and therefore they have to move to France or Germany is something they could've put right if they'd acted a year ago," he said.

Image caption The factory's 241-strong workforce faces losing their jobs

Dunlop marketing communications director James Bailey insisted the company would have preferred to remain in Birmingham.

He said the firm had "looked at all the sites the council put forward" but had found nothing suitable.

"The challenge that we have is within the timescale that we have to move a very complex manufacturing process to a newly-built factory is simply not possible," he said.

Image caption The firm is switching production to France and Germany

Dunlop worker Charles Smallman said the news had been "a long time coming" after Jaguar Land Rover bought the site last May.

"We knew we weren't going to be here for much longer. It was just a matter of time, just a waiting game," he said.

Dominic Hinks, regional officer for the GMB union, said the company had been "disingenuous" with its workers and the people of Birmingham.

"Our view is if they wanted to remain in Birmingham they can. There is a site in Aston ready for them to move into and it's clear that's not been a consideration for them," he said.

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