‘Emperor’ Boris ‘blows’ into Ballymena to inspect his buses!
Thursday, 16 May 2013
The inimitable Mayor of London, Boris 'the bus' Johnston, 'free-wheeled' into Ballymena last Friday, entertaining an audience of high powered business people and politicians with a mix of 'tour de force' economic commentary and his personal, unique brand of wit and wisdom!
The Mayor had three engagements in Co. Antrim, firstly opening a new Wrightbus chassis plant in the Newpark Industrial estate in Antrim, that will create 60 new jobs and apprenticeships, secondly, visiting the production line at the Wright Group factory in Ballymena and later helping to launch the new "Growing Something Brilliant' initiative by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Galgorm Manor.
Such is the drawing power of Mayor Johnston it was standing room only at Galgorm, for an 'off the cuff' address that wove its way through the triumph of the London Olympics to eulogising on the 'world class' brilliance of the new 600 Wrighbus order for London buses that will soon be as familiar in the capital as black taxis.
Half the Northern Ireland Executive were in attendance, including First minister, Peter Robinson and Enterprise minister, Arlene Foster, plus Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, the Mayor of Ballymena, alderman PJ McAvoy, and a who's who of the local business community.
The new bus is the the greenest diesel hybrid buses in the world and the chassis plant was created after the Mayor's order for 600 new buses was placed.
There are currently around 40 people employed at the chassis plant and that will increase to around 90 people when full production is underway.
Mr Johnson, said: "London's transport network is the supply line for new jobs and growth around the whole of the United Kingdom. We already support 40,000 jobs outside of the capital and we believe we can create more.
“The programme of transport improvements we want to see in the capital is bursting at the seams with job generation potential, and that is why protecting investment in London transport should be the Government's top priority as they consider how best to conduct this summer's spending review."
London's Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy said: "This chassis plant and the Wrightbus main plant in Ballymena are a real demonstration of the important role investment in London's transport network plays in supporting jobs and growth throughout the UK.
Mrs Foster welcomed the new Antrim jobs and paid tribute to the Mayor's support for Wrightbus.
She said: ""It's good to see the Mayor of London coming back to Northern Ireland to meet the staff at Wrightbus, who are producing what is set to become an iconic London bus.
“The Transport for London order for 600 new buses has been hugely important. Not only has it secured and created jobs, it once again puts Northern Ireland manufacturing firmly on the global stage.
“Boris Johnson has described the new buses as a "world class piece of technology" and, naturally, I agree with him.
“I recently announced that, with support from Invest Northern Ireland, Wrightbus Ltd is investing almost £15million in research and development (R&D) and staff training. I have no doubt that the company's continued focus on innovation will further bolster its position as a significant player in key national and international markets."
Mark Nodder, Wrightbus chief executive and current NI Chamber of Commerce president, urged everyone to grasp the opportunities of the Chamber's 'Growing Something Brilliant' initiative, which is rooted in a "can do" business philosophy.
Mr Nodder told guests at Galgorm it was essential that the local economy grew its exporting base and that companies, large and small, all had a role to play in creating economic prosperity.
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