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LEP DEFENDS JAGUAR LAND ROVER LINK

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BOSSES of a taxpayer-funded business group have defended giving financial support to Jaguar Land Rover despite the firm reporting profits of nearly £1billion in the first quarter of 2014.

The firm has been handed millions of pounds from government schemes in recent times as well as getting strong support from Coventry and Warwickshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The group – made up of local political leaders and business bosses – is tasked with identifying key projects in the region and awarding funds to deserving companies.

Chairman Jonathan Browning is a former Jaguar managing director while two other board members work for the company.

Vice chairman Karl Eddy said: “One of the main thrusts of the LEP is to help drive the growth of companies so they can achieve their potential, and advanced manufacturing and engineering is a key sector.

“Not only do we have a globally recognised excellence in that sector, but it also creates a high number of jobs in the supply chain.

“The LEP has attracted around £130million of funding support to Coventry and Warwickshire which will, it is anticipated, attract private investment of more than £330 million. That help has been to companies of all sizes and across the Coventry and Warwickshire.”

In May last year the LEP pledged £6m towards a road project around JLR’s Whitley site. The company contributed £500,000 towards the scheme, which aims to release nearly one million sq ft of undeveloped land.

Mr Eddy added: “The work being carried out for transport improvements are part of a widespread programme to improve connections across a wide area and not simply for Jaguar Land Rover, although the company is a major component of that programme.

“It was money we won from a national fund, which would have been spent elsewhere had we not bid successfully and clearly government appreciated the value to the economy of the improvements.”

The company has also been handed tens of millions of pounds in the government-run Regional Growth Fund. Dozens of other regional firms have also won cash under the scheme.

JLR made £924m profit before tax in the first quarter of the financial year after retail increased 22 per cent.

Chief executive Dr Ralf Speth added: “We are committed to inspire customers with exceptional premium vehicles, delivering the highest standards of quality, technology and customer service.”

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