Caterham Cars campaigners ask Jeremy Clarkson for backing
JEREMY Clarkson has been urged to back the campaign to keep Caterham Cars in Caterham.
The showroom of the iconic car company in Station Avenue will be bulldozed if a planning application for 35 sheltered homes there gets approved by Tandridge District Council.
But with Caterham Cars' lease expiring in June, the firm may be forced to move out of town anyway, if a hoped-for decision to reject the application is not taken quickly.
The call has gone out to Clarkson, who has been a co-presenter on BBC2's popular Top Gear motoring programme for more than 20 years and is also a columnist for The Sunday Times and The Sun.
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Protesters are hoping the campaign will have added appeal for Clarkson because Caterham Cars sponsors a Formula One racing team.
Caterham Valley parish councillor Mark Jones has written to Mr Clarkson and said: "I am asking for your support for our efforts to try and save our town from over-development.
"As you can imagine Caterham Cars brings tourists, employment plus opportunities of work experience to local schoolchildren.
"Caterham Cars does not want to move, but should the owners and developers get their way this will leave Caterham with no other choice but to move out the area.
"Can you imagine the [Caterham] Formula One team being called 'Bangor' or 'Romford?'
"Caterham is a brand and we residents are very proud to be associated with a local success."
Mr Jones pointed out that not only does the site employ 16 staff but is also indirectly responsible for about 25 other jobs locally – from tyre shops to MOT stations.
In addition, they host regular visits from school groups, and hundreds of potential customers descend on the town to visit the showroom each week.
He added in his letter: "Many children walk past the site each morning on the way to school.
"Although they have been walking past the showroom for many years they still stop to look at the fantastic display of cars."
A Caterham Superlight R500 won the accolade of being named the Top Gear Car of the Year in 2008.
Mr Clarkson's wife Frances owns a Caterham R400.
In 2008, an internet petition was posted on the Prime Minister's Number 10 website to "Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister."
By the time it closed, it had 49,446 signatures.
An opposing petition on the same site to "Never, Ever Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister" drew 87 signatures.
The Mirror was awaiting a reply from Mr Clarkson as we went to press.