THE Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has welcomed plans by the new owners of Wrightbus to grow jobs, increase investment and boost economic growth in the area.
Wrightbus Chief Executive Buta Atwal set out the firm’s vision during a meeting with Anne Donaghy at The Braid in Ballymena.
Last month Wrightbus announced it had completed its first delivery of new buses following the company’s acquisition by Bamford Bus Company.
It is currently recruiting for a range of roles, including engineers, technicians and project managers.
Following the meeting with Mr Atwal, Ms Donaghy described the company’s commitment to Ballymena as “a ringing endorsement of our area’s world-class advanced manufacturing capabilities and skills base”.
She added: “I am extremely excited about what the future holds for Wrightbus, which has a proud reputation as a global leader in its field.
“I have been hugely impressed by the new owners and management of Wrightbus, who are already delivering on their promise to get our citizens back to work and continue to be a key employer and economic driver locally.
“I am delighted Mr Atwal is set to join our Manufacturing Task Force. His experience and knowledge will be invaluable assets as we deliver our vision for increased economic prosperity, enable digital innovation, support entrepreneurship, create jobs and grow industry.
“Council’s number one priority is to create jobs.
“Wrightbus has also given its backing for the ongoing bid to secure a Heathrow Expansion Logistics Hub in Northern Ireland, with the company partnering private-sector lead Graham Group in the once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure around £5bn investment in Northern Ireland, as well as the creation of 5,000 jobs.
“Through this already strong working relationship, Council and Wrightbus are laying solid foundations for a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous economic future for Mid and East Antrim and Northern Ireland.”
Mr Atwal said: “The support we have received from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council since Bamford Bus Company’s acquisition of Wrightbus has been second to none. We look forward to working together as we rebuild the Wrightbus business.
“I am delighted to be joining the Mid and East Antrim Manufacturing Task Force and believe the region has a bright future ahead of it, of which Wrightbus will play a key role.”
Ms Donaghy also updated councillors at the main December meeting of the Council.
She told councillors she had a “very productive” meeting with the management at Wrightbus.
Ms Donaghy said the firm had employed 150 people to date and were now aiming for 200 and there was a focus on getting engineers in and employing apprentice engineers.
She told councillors: “They spoke very positively and very reassuringly about building their business over the next five years so this is a very reassuring message to the council chamber.
“Their Chief Executive has joined the Manufacturing Taskforce and they have also joined as a partner to the Heathrow Hub application”.
She said meetings are due to be held involving Wrightbus and Queen’s University, Invest NI, key partners and the Council.