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Local MEP calls for review of Bombardier decision

Wednesday, 22nd June 2011

A local MEP has written to Transport Minister Theresa Villiers asking her to look again at the decision not to put the new rolling-stock procurement contract with Bombardier in Derby, and arguing that while EU procurement rules seem to offer a level playing field, they disadvantage countries like the UK which play be the rules.

Roger Helmer MEP, who is one of Derby’s two Conservative Members of the European Parliament, has voiced his concerns about the awarding of a £1.4bn contract to German engineering company Siemens. The Thameslink programme would have given a much-needed boost to Derby’s economy and safeguard up to 1500 jobs for local constituents. Despite the programme having been designed and launched by the previous government, the Con-Lib coalition decided to push ahead with it, which resulted in Bombardier losing out yet again to a foreign company. Bombardier had previously suffered a setback when a large project was awarded to Japanese company Hitachi in 2009.

Mr Helmer is a committed believer in free markets, but believes that the way EU procurement rules are operated in practice disadvantages UK manufacturers. He has written to the Minister for Transport, Rt Hon Therese Villiers MP, raising the issue of promoting British industry and local engineering companies.

Local residents are outraged at the seemingly careless attitude the government has shown towards Derby and the many families who were depending on the contract to secure their livelihoods.

In his letter to the Minister Mr Helmer wrote:

‘...While in theory procurement on major projects should be neutral between member-states, the experience is that virtually all contracts in Germany go to German firms, and all contracts in France go to French firms. Whereas around half of UK contracts go outside the UK.

‘The rules appear to provide for a level playing field, but the effect is to disadvantage UK manufacturers.

‘I would appeal to you to see if there is any way in which the Derby decision might be revisited. It has caused huge upset in Derby, not least amongst local Conservatives, who are furious.’