Campaigners find unlikely allies in fight for shipyard

Chamber comments on the post-Brexit budget

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KINGS Theatre panto star Danniella Westbrook and her fellow cast members have added their voices to calls for shipbuilding to remain in Portsmouth.

Danniella, Home and Away actress Lynne McGranger, and former X Factor contestant Christopher Maloney, are appearing at the Southsea theatre in a production of Sleeping Beauty.

Danniella Westbrook

Danniella Westbrook

But they have also spoken out about the fate of workers who recently found out they were to lose their jobs under plans to close the city’s BAE Systems base.

Danniella said: ‘Portsmouth is not my part of the world, but I am British and my heritage is here, and for me the shipbuilding closing down is really sad.

‘So many jobs, so many families, it’s part of their history.

‘This is where we build our ships with fantastic craftsmanship.

‘Everybody should get behind it and fight for it. This is a big part of Portsmouth, it’s what it’s known for.

‘If you get rid of the legacy, where does it leave people? It’s a real shame.’

It comes after BAE Systems announced last month it was to close its shipbuilding division in the city.

Lynne McGranger added: ‘I’ve heard that some of the shipbuilding is closing down, and that really surprises me because that what Portsmouth is known for.

‘It’s really sad so I imagine a lot of people are going to be out of work and it’s not a good time of year.

‘I hope that doesn’t come about because it would be very sad.’

At the weekend, hundreds of people took part in a march through the city to protest against the decision to stop shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

Christopher Maloney said: ‘Before I came down to Southsea I heard BAE was closing and they’re going to lose about 900 jobs and keep Scotland opened.

‘I started my shipping career here in Portsmouth. I worked for Stena Line on the cross-channel ferry. So I know it’s got a lot of history and it was quite sickening to hear it was going to be closing and I really hope that doesn’t happen.’

Their comments were made during a video interview with The Akash restaurant in Southsea.

As reported in The News, a petition against the closure recently reached 10,000 signatures.

To sign the petition, visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/56694.