JOHN TOWERS, the former Rover chief executive leading the Phoenix bid for the car company, went to the Longbridge plant yesterday for the first time since he quit the company four years ago.
His visit, said to be welcomed by Rover workers, was part of Phoenix’s process of assessing the physical assets of the Rover operation. Full talks with BMW began on Tuesday.

In London, West Midlands MPs and Rover workers lobbied the Prime Minister for clear support for Phoenix as the issue of public money is increasingly being seen as crucial. It is expected that Phoenix will know within the next week or two whether the deal can be financially secured.

Separately, the car industry was given a boost by Vauxhall’s detailing of a £189 million planned investment to build a new van, shift production of the Frontera, and boost productivity. The cash injection will affect the Luton and Ellesmere Port factories and create 500 jobs.

Nick Reilly, chairman and managing director of Vauxhall, said: “We have great difficulty with the pound at the moment but we don’t believe this is part of a long-term trend, and this investment is to enable us to stay in manufacturing in this country.”