Archives for category: Manufacturing

People passing the illuminated Bournville factory buildings late at night will have noted its 24-hour operation – evidence of a thriving enterprise.

The factory buildings in 1932: unchanged exterior

The FT’s John Murray Brown (paywall) reports from Bournville that Mondelez has completed a two-year modernisation programme, investing £75m in the chocolate maker’s flagship factory: “Shiny new production equipment has been installed at the “factory in a garden” built by Quaker George Cadbury in 1879 alongside houses for its workers who had relocated from Birmingham’s industrial belt.

Under the agreement, 1,300 workers at Bournville and two other Cadbury factories in the UK will receive a pay rise of 3.2% in 2017-18, and an increase in line with inflation in 2018-19. Joe Clarke of Unite says this is considerably higher than other recent settlements in the food and drinks industry, which have been about 2.4%.

Mr Clarke highlighted the chocolate maker’s “strong ethical traditions: “Cadbury has a long history of good industrial relations. We’ve got records which go back to the tea break agreement of 1922.” Cadbury established works councils, with management and employee representative meeting to discuss company plans, back in the 1930s. It was also one of the first companies to offer sick pay and pension rights for women.

The improvement in industrial relations at Cadbury came after controversy when the company was bought by Kraft Foods of the US in 2010. The Takeover Panel, the custodian of UK rules on mergers and acquisitions, after reneging on a promise not to shut Cadbury’s Somerdale plant at Keynsham near Bristol but it was made clear that the original decision had been made by Cadbury in 2007.

There have been 200 voluntary redundancies at Bournville under the modernisation programme, bringing the manufacturing workforce down to about 800. The four new production lines have led to ‘dramatic’ productivity improvements closing the gap with Mondelez’ German plant. In an embedded video, David Bailey, professor of industrial strategy at Aston University business school, said, “We hadn’t seen significant investment at Bournville for a long time. It was pretty dilapidated. Old plant and equipment. The focus on productivity is the only way any company manufacturing in a relatively high-cost economy can survive in the long run”.

The changes at Bournville mean manufacturing is assured “for a generation not just for the short term”, according to Glenn Caton, president of Mondelez’s northern Europe operations.  






Time-pressed residents of Birmingham, Solihull, Cannock, Dudley, Coventry, Lichfield, Sandwell, South Staffs, Tamworth, Walsall and Wolverhampton who regularly scan their section of the Brummie site, appreciate the free service it gives, whatever their interests. Main news items covered, include a range of locally run websites, music and the arts, sport and business.

Links to them give those sites a wider readership than would otherwise have been possible. Until the final few months Mark was a helpful and courteous correspondent and this later lack of response was ascribed to pressure of other work, which involved travelling abroad. We now can see that there may have been health concerns claiming priority.

Three of many interests served: Our Birmingham, West Midlands Producers and Localise West Midlands thank him and hope that a way will be found to maintain the Brummie.





At the BMI recently it was a pleasure to meet Fiona Joseph from Acocks Green (right), who wrote BEATRICE The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune (2012) and Comforts For The Troops (2015). I wanted to hear more about her forthcoming book, focussing on the life and work of Godric Bader, remembering a visit to the company’s headquarters some years later and in particular his ad hoc hand account of thoughtful ethical/environmental decisions as we strolled round the grounds – and a reassurance about the nature of the chemicals used.

The title of Fiona’s book will be HELD IN TRUST: The Life of Godric Bader and the Scott Bader Commonwealth. It will describe the lifelong struggle of a socially-responsible CEO to defeat harmful capitalist practices and transform the business world into a fairer, peaceful and more just environment.

Part social history, part business primer, HELD IN TRUST will also be a manifesto for the ‘Common Trusteeship’ model, a bold alternative to unethical business practices which, all too often, place shareholder values over true social responsibility to the people and the planet.

Until 1951, Scott Bader Ltd was a traditional family-owned chemical company, specialising in polymers for plastics and paints, and competing ruthlessly against its rivals like Bakelite. But Godric Bader’s father Ernest decided the capitalist model of industry promoted greed and selfishness and set about transferring the ownership of Scott Bader to the workforce so the company could be run collectively as a Commonwealth (wealth-in-common).

Shortly afterwards Godric Bader was appointed as MD and Chairman of this new experiment in industrial democracy. So began his struggle to transform Scott Bader into a viable, profitable company, whilst trying to defeat the forces that threatened to undermine the values and vision of the Scott Bader Commonwealth.

Keeping the flame alive for future generations was never easy but Godric Bader has somehow managed it.

HELD IN TRUST is the frank and compelling account of this lifelong battle.

 “For me, there are no heroes in business – other than Scott Bader”. Anita Roddick, late founder of The Body Shop

“Godric Bader has clung with barnacle tenacity to the notion that one can be fair, moral, widely informed and behave with propriety – and still be successful – in the frequently ruthless groves of big business.” John Swinfield, former Business Columnist Evening Standard.






Young people in the West Midlands considering a manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship and their parents are invited to attend an open day at the EEF’s manufacturing and engineering at the Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham.

From aerospace to automotive to robotics, EEF will connect best in class employers with young people to discuss a range of apprenticeships in a wide range of sectors. As well as getting a tour of the multi-million pound facility, the open day will offer people the opportunity to talk to trainers and current apprentices to find out what the training offers.

EEF currently trains 300 apprentices at the centre and is aiming to increase this to 400. Christine Chapman, centre manager, said: “Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships provide a highly-skilled career in a sector which is thriving right across the West Midlands and beyond. Employers have a strong demand for skills of this type and this day presents an ideal opportunity for young people and their parents to see the training centre in action and to discuss career options with a variety of employers.”

Check EEF’s apprenticeship vacancies database to keep an eye on available positions or ring 0121 331 3930

EEF was formed in 1896 as the Engineering Employers’ Federation and merged in 1918 with the National Employers’ Federation. In November 2003 the EEF rebranded itself from the ‘Engineering Employers’ Federation’ to ‘EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation’.




john-clancy-3A search on this website will bring news that – as well as looking further afield – our relatively new council leader is caring for those in most need – not only in the housing sector but in education and social welfare.

For more information see the Newsroom site:

The council is joining forces with the Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART) and the ThinCats Community Chest peer lending platform to assist start-up firms and social enterprises from the poorest parts of Birmingham that find it difficult to obtain loans from high street banks. ART and the city council will jointly underwrite loans of between £10,000 and £150,000.

Based at Innovation Campus, Birmingham, ART has lent over £20 million since its launch, helping small firms to grow and creating thousands of jobs. Loans are available for any purpose including supporting cash-flow. One of ART’s best known beneficiaries is Birmingham Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell who took out a loan to open his first restaurant.


The writer declares an interest as a founder share-holder. She watched Pat Conaty (receiving award, first left) then working at the B’ham Settlement), gradually convince people, notably Sir Adrian Cadbury, that a reinvestment trust, such as those Pat had seen working in America, could be set up. After years of painstaking effort it was launched, headed by Steve Walker who has worked ever since to promote its success.

Two sister sites carry references to ART’s work and one focussed on it in 2011, ‘The Aston Reinvestment Trust: helping small and medium businesses’. It is also featured in the services section of a website set up to focus on SME manufacturing in and near Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy is appealing to Brummies to support a fund-raising scheme that could generate £3 million to help small businesses get off the ground:

“This is a pioneering local investment opportunity and a chance for people to not only get a financial incentive in the form of a tax relief, but also a social return.  Small and medium sized enterprises are the life blood of the local economy and their ability to grow, create inclusive economic growth and preserve jobs impacts on everyone who lives and works in Birmingham.”

For details of the investment process go to

Or directly to




Programmes on Sky News and the BBC have shown bombing, mass starvation and collapse of medical facilities in Yemen. British firms have supplied military hardware and British military officers have helped to direct the Saudi military campaign.

In October the Labour Party submitted a parliamentary motion which opened: “That this House supports efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities and provide humanitarian relief in Yemen, and notes that the country is now on the brink of famine; condemns the reported bombings of civilian areas…”

The government voted against this disloyalty to our ‘special friend’ Saudi Arabia, as did some Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Shabana Mahmood.

Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff and human rights lawyer Kim Sharif will speak at this public meeting in Sparkhill organised by Stop the War Coalition, which does not support either side in Yemen’s civil war but condemns outside intervention and bombing by Saudi Arabia with the support of British and American military personnel.


 Roger Godsiff has raised six concerns in parliament after the government – via Tobias Ellwood, a minister at the department – issued ‘corrections’ to six statements on the Yemen crisis dating back almost six months:

  1. The government admitted issuing six statements misleading parliament on whether Saudi Arabia committed war crimes in Yemen.
  2. Saudi Arabia is in fact committing war crimes by targeting civilians and non-military infrastructure in Yemen.
  3. The UK is continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and these weapons may be used to commit war crimes in Yemen by the Saudi regime, which is a dictatorship with no regard for democracy or human rights.
  4. Continuing to sell arms to the Saudi regime both enables and condones violence against civilians.
  5. The UK’s standing in the world is diminished by these actions and strongly urging the government to urgently reconsider its arms export policy to Saudi Arabia.
  6. And the safety of civilians in Yemen and the UK’s reputation in the world should be prioritised over the profits of arms companies.


Contact Stuart Richardson: email or see





Saturday 26th November 2016 9am – 5pm

At: BVSC (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council) 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR


The Lucas Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. It remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change. Read the Plan here.

Today, in 2016 — 40 years after the Lucas Plan — we’re facing a convergence of crises: militarism and nuclear weaponsclimate chaos, and the destruction of jobs by automation. These crises mean we have to start thinking about technology as political, as the Lucas Aerospace workers did. Our conference will aim to re-open the debate about industrial conversion and democracy.







Regional economic development in question

Aston BS Pic

Professor David Bailey sends notice of the Aston Centre for Europe workshop on Brexit and its regional and industrial impact: Thursday 21 July 2016: 1.30 – 5.15pm. Venue: Aston Business School, Aston University, Conference Room 1. Speakers include academics, MEPs, trade unionists, business groups.

Panel 1: The  and Britain’s economic development: what can we expect for the regions?

Panel 2 The referendum outcome and workers’ rights in the UK: regional implications in the West Midlands and beyond.

Details and booking here:

David Bailey,  Professor of Industrial Strategy

Economics & Strategy Group Aston Business School

The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK.

Our projects:


David’s Blog:





Is the West Midlands area tied into a mass fluoridation contract with Severn Trent which would make authorities liable for punitive damages if they withdrew?

Many will salute Bedford Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which – in April – unanimously recommended that fluoride should NOT be added to Bedford’s water.

bedford cllrs fluoridation

Mass medication brings large profits for manufacturers and those on whom they can confer benefits, but as yet most proposals have not been accepted.

fluoride UK mapThe map on the left shows the relatively low uptake of the fluoridation offer – and proposals to dose the population with substances such as statins or folic acid are yet to be accepted.

These practices – like drone warfare – rely on the pernicious principle of ‘acceptable risk’ as studies have suggested that up to one in five patients taking statins suffers some kind of ill-effect, including muscle aches, memory disturbance, cataracts and diabetes.

Would the 0-20% affected agree that this risk is acceptable?

Another proposal for adding folic acid to bread has also been studied; the noted rise in colorectal cancer is described as a ‘slight increase’ in statistical terms – again, not negligible to the people afflicted.

Mass medication through the food chain is affecting those who eat conventionally reared meat, poultry and dairy products.

Farm animals account for almost two thirds of all antibiotics used in 26 European countries.

Last year 20 senior representatives from health and medical organisations co-signed a letter published in the Times, calling on the UK Government and European Commission to put an end to routine, preventative antibiotic use in groups of healthy animals. A Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s report has revealed that the total UK veterinary sales in 2014 of antibiotics classified as “critically important in human medicine” increased by 3% to a new record high.

Bedford Councillor Anthony Forth (below) issued the following statement:

bedford cllr quoted“I would like to propose that following the review process, this committee recommends a termination of the existing water fluoridation scheme, subject to the necessary consultations that are outlined on pages 26 to 28. “I think that the evidence in favour of water fluoridation does seem extremely dated… On the other hand, a number of the pieces of evidence of dis-benefits are not as scientifically rigorous as we might like.

“I think that as a group we’re happy to accept the Precautionary Principle that there isn’t strong evidence for re-introducing fluoride, so therefore we should not go ahead.”

A video made by Fluoride Free Bedford includes footage of the council reflecting on this important decision.

One correspondent commented on a recent article about this decision that there was no need to take a precautionary approach: “as the concentration in the human body increases, so does the risk of damage But at the level used by most of the world in CFW being .7-1PPM there is little or no risk.”

Is he including the cumulative effect of the addition of fluoride, not only to the water supply, but to various foods and dental products?

Authorities in the American environmental and occupational health sector list the ‘exposure pathways’ in a study republished on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information:

  • ingestion of fluoridated public drinking water;
  • ingestion of soft drinks and fruit juices (beverages);
  • consumption of infant formula;
  • ingestion of cow’s milk;
  • consumption of foods; incidental ingestion of soil; ingestion of fluoride supplement tablets; and incidental ingestion of fluoride toothpaste.

Another well-qualified source, Professor K.K. Cheng (University of Birmingham) who co-authored Adding fluoride to water supplies, advises public and professional bodies to balance benefits and risks, individual rights and social values in an even-handed manner.

That study points out that those opposing fluoridation sometimes overstate the evidence on harm and also that the Department of Health’s objectivity is questionable: it funded the British Fluoridation Society and used the York review’s findings selectively to give an overoptimistic assessment of the evidence in favour of fluoridation.

In response to the Medical Research Council recommendations, Britain’s Department of Health, often said to be helping people to live better for longer, has commissioned research on the bioavailability (degree of absorption) of fluoride from naturally and artificially fluoridated drinking water.

Cheng points out that the study had only 20 participants and was too small to give reliable results – but despite this it has formed the basis of a series of claims by government for the safety of fluoridation.

Time for change – but change will come too late for those affected by the ‘acceptable’ risks.




bham 2 green commission logo Birmingham’s Green Commission reported that people from public and private sector industries,  transport policy, energy, fleet management, developers and planners attended the launch of the Council’s Blueprint for Low Carbon Fuel Infrastructure.

The Blueprint, developed by Element Energy, identifies the key priorities for the refuelling and recharging infrastructure needed to support growing fleets of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles. It covers electric, hydrogen, (bio)methane and LPG vehicles, and has been developed in close consultation with fleet operators active in the Birmingham area. Thanks to the evidence base aggregated for the Blueprint, several projects are already underway or in preparation – from LPG taxis, to gas station, and hydrogen buses. Transport for London reports that the city now has a fleet of eight hydrogen fuel buses running on route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway. Hydrogen fuel buses emitting nothing but water into the air.

A Shirley engineer brought the work of Intelligent Energy to our attention. Their powerful hydrogen fuel cell technology is used ‘across a diverse range of applications’, providing proof in the field of how their fuel cells can be used to reduce carbon emissions while providing clean, silent, always-on power, without the need for subsidy. He pointed out that though an electric car can only go so far before needing to refuel – and charging takes hours – a hydrogen fuel cell behaves like electricity and can refuel in a few minutes at a hydrogen pump.

In the West Midlands, Coventry University is noted for its research and development in this and other automotive fields. Note its ‘spin off’ microcab business, its hydrogen car and a developing network of refuelling stations in Coventry, Birmingham, Swindon and Glamorgan.

hydrogen2 filling stations europe

Boats running on hydrogen are already used on Amsterdam’s canals, a city that is working on a hydrogen filling facility. The ever-expanding network of hydrogen filling stations in Europe was mapped in 2013 – above.

Prof Rex Harris, engineering (metallurgy, rare earths), Birmingham University, and his team, have pioneered the hydrogen-fuelled barge with their prototype, the Ross Barlow (below). See official site: and

ross barlow annotatedHydrogen vehicles are travelling by road and canal and work is ongoing in the field of rail travel – the development and design of a hydrogen-hybrid locomotive. Concerns about energy security and increasing diesel prices have prompted the railway industry to explore alternative fuel sources. Hydrogen is one of these – a promising alternative to diesel – an energy carrier which can be made from several feedstocks, and when combusted with oxygen, creates only water and heat or, if utilised in a fuel cell, also produces electrical energy.

hydrailHydrail design proposed at the 2012 International Hydrail Conference at the University of Birmingham:


In Development and design of a narrow-gauge hydrogen-hybrid locomotive, a paper published in the Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit January 2016, the authors (University of Birmingham) describe the design methodology for a prototype narrow-gauge hydrogen fuel cell locomotive in order to demonstrate a proof of the concept of using hydrogen technology for railway motive power. As far as the authors know, Hydrogen Pioneer, the Railway Challenge Team’s vehicle, is the UK’s first practical hydrogen-powered locomotive. It successfully completed all the physical performance challenges or requirements set by the IMechE for any contending team through which the proof of the concept of a hydrogen-hybrid locomotive was established.

bham 2air pollution

There are serious concerns about the combustion of diesel – the primary fuel for road, canal and railway motive power – releasing emissions at the point of use. These concerns are leading to increasing regulation and possible prosecution in places such as Birmingham where the limits are regularly breached, leading to mounting ill-health and estimated thousands of premature deaths.

Air Quality News reports that opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue of UK air pollution in Parliament during PMQs (March 16).

He said that it was the “sad truth” that 500,000 people will die “because of this country’s failure to comply with international law on air pollution”, citing a recent Royal College of Physicians report that this costs economy £20 billion a year.

Mr Corbyn called on the government to act “to make us comply with international law and, above all, help the health of the people of this country”.

We hope he will support the development of hydrogen fuelled vehicles which emit nothing but water into the air.