Anger as ‘Street’s Cycles’ to be made by German firm
THE Midland company which makes London’s famous ‘Boris Bikes’ has hit out after it was announced the West Midlands bike share contract has gone to a German firm.
Stratford-upon-Avon based Pashley Cycles is one of Britain’s longest established cycle manufacturers, and says it could have created ten jobs if it had won the contract to supply 5,000 bikes for use on the streets of the West Midlands.
But Transport for the West Midlands, which awarded the contract, argued the German owned company Nextbike made a superior bid – offering more bikes at lower cost to the consumer and fitting in with the region’s Swift card system.
It means the high-tech cycles will be made at a factory in Leipzig and will be on the streets of Birmingham by September.
Pashley provides London’s Santander bikes, previously nicknamed Boris Bikes, the largest bike share scheme in the country.
The row has echoes of the decision to use a French company to produce the new blue passports for the UK after Brexit. Pashley Cycles’ general manager Steve Bell said: “Having the bikes built in our factory in Stratford would have generated a further ten new jobs which will now be based in Leipzig.
“Buying these bikes from Germany is turning our back on our own hard pressed medium-sized businesses here in the Midlands. We are a family-owned company investing in sourcing UK made goods, made by local people. With Brexit just around the corner we need to support our own companies, not at a higher cost of course, but at the same or better value for money than those sourced overseas.
“We are confident our locally-built bikes would have represented at least the same value but we would have generated greater value for money through an economic multiplier impact.”
Lib Dem candidate for Stratfordupon-Avon Dominic Skinner said the region had missed a chance to back its own business.
He said: “It is ironic that our own local business is producing Santander’s new bikes for London, but that their ‘home city’, Birmingham, has opted to purchase bikes from Germany.”
A Transport for West Midlands spokesman said: “Pashley make exceptional bikes and are a fantastic example of high quality West Midlands manufacturing.
“However, a key element of our requirement was that the scheme should fully integrate with our wider tram, train and bus network by using the Swift travel smartcard to hire the bikes. Pashley were aligned with a rival bidder whose offer did not integrate Swift but instead proposed a separate payment system in addition to a mobile phone app. This bid was also heavily focused on Birmingham rather than the wider West Midlands, and offered a lower number of bikes – around 3,000, compared to the 5,000 proposed by the winning bid.
“The successful Nextbike bid also met the Swift requirement and offered a much lower hire charge for people using the bikes.”