Meet the locals: Luton

While some residents see an upturn on the horizon, others are not so confident.

    The Vauxhall car plant and Luton airport employ many of the town's residents

    Al Jazeera is following the effects of the global recession on towns across the globe.

    Two months after first observing the impact of the global recession on Luton in the UK, Nadim Baba returned to see how residents are coping and if they are noticing any signs of recovery.

    Mohammed Motlib, car plant worker, and Sufia Motlib, unemployed

    Mohammed Motlib works at the van production site of Vauxhall Motors which is owned by General Motors.

    The firm is due to be sold off by GM, and Mohammed says many of his colleagues are concerned that whoever takes over will not need the same workforce.

    He has seen his hours cut since last year, and since Al Jazeera last visited Luton his employers are experimenting with a reduced-staff shift, although nobody has been asked to take redundancy.

    Mohammed and his wife Sufia are both of Bangladeshi origin.

    Global Recession

     Video: Mass redundancies stare Luton in the face
     A special report on the economic crisis
     Downtowns: Luton

    Sufia now wants to look for a job. She is currently taking English lessons and also studying for her driving theory test.

    She wants a driver's license so that she can improve her chances of finding work, to help provide for their two children.

    Mohammed has seen some colleagues already move on to other work in anticipation of cutbacks in the motor industry. One, for example, has gone to work at the town's Magistrates' Court.

    But Mohammed says he has no other training so his options are limited.

    Patrick Graystone, estate agent

    Patrick, a 28-year-old who has lived most of his life in Luton, runs a small estate agent.

    He and his business partner help rent out and sell properties, and he says that in recent months business has definitely picked up.

    He says that contrary to common perceptions, many people are able to get a mortgage, and rejects the idea that there is a "liquidity" problem in general.

    He says that other businesses he knows are also feeling optimistic that an economic upturn has already started.

    He rejects the idea of a W-shaped recovery with another sharp fall some time in the near future.

    He thinks Luton will see slow and steady growth, but in the same breath he acknowledges how hard the credit crunch has hit certain firms, with several commercial properties in the same street as his office lying empty.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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