Last week we had the excellent news that Honda is going to recruit 500 new members of staff to work at its South Marston factory. This is part of a £200m investment by the firm, which will also provide better security for the 3200 people already working there.
I believe that such an investment is tied to the fact that both the town and the country have adopted a position that is supportive of private enterprise. It is particularly encouraging the new cars are intended for the export market, which should certainly be a boon to the national economy.
Already Swindon has one of the best ratios of private to state-employed workers in the country – about four people are working in the private sector to every one person in the public sector. Many of the new jobs are likely to be manufacturing roles that will help provide good salaries and opportunities, and build further on the manufacturing base that we have in Swindon.
As well as the jobs we have secured at Honda, there will be a knock-on benefit to the local economy. It will provide a boost for local retail and leisure outlets as well as increasing people’s spending power. Moreover, there are a number of local companies that supply essential parts to Honda that will also benefit from increased production at South Marston.
Not only is Honda’s commitment to Swindon a vote of confidence in the town, it is also an endorsement of the Council’s recent decision to make offering education opportunities that lead to the rights skills and right jobs in the right places one of our four priorities as part of our recently launched Vision. It is also evidence of how we need the support of others, whether informally or formally, to make our Vision, Priorities and Pledges a reality.
Of course, we can’t overlook Swindon’s excellent geographical location, with good major road routes to the Midlands, the Southern ports as well as to Bristol, South Wales, London and beyond. We are also benefiting from the huge investment in the Great Western Railway that will soon bring us faster, more reliable services.
All of these factors are coming together to give us a single message: Swindon is a great place in which to do business.
I am confident that other companies will be following Honda’s lead and over time we will benefit from further investment and jobs.