(Lord Digby Jones speaking exclusively to bournvillevillage.com after tonight’s debate about the Kraft takeover of Cadbury)
Passions ran high at a packed Rowheath Pavilion on Tuesday evening as experts and residents clashed over the best way to preserve Bournville’s future in the light of the Kraft takeover of Cadbury.
An expert panel that included Professor Carl Chinn and Lord Digby Jones spent two hours discussing the repercussions that would be felt across Birmingham should Kraft cut production at the Bournville factory. Lord Digby Jones, speaking to Bournville Village ahead of the debate said: “If I’d been working here I would feel insecure and angry”. He went on to say that Kraft got Cadbury “on the cheap” but that it did demonstrate that Britain was an attractive business environment.
That position was echoed by Jerry Blackett, leader of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce who stated in the debate that Birmingham should welcome Kraft and demonstrate to them that we have expertise worth investing in: “we’re worried about Kraft because we haven’t eyeballed them yet, we haven’t met them”.
But other panel members remained unconvinced with Carl Chinn and Digby Jones clashing over whether a policy of protectionism would help preserve British manufacturing. Professor Chinn received a warm welcome from the crowd and gave a rousing speech exclaiming: “enough is enough. We’ve watched our region be devastated. Manufacturing matters”
Emotional contributions came from the many Bournville residents present. But even here there were opposing views. Elisabeth Edwards wanted simple answers as to why the takeover was allowed to happen whilst 88 year old Stanley Holland claimed “business is business”.
Below are some images from the night. We’ll have further updates and exclusive video from the debate over the coming days.