RIVAL politicians say the prime minister’s announcements during a visit to Portsmouth lack substance and are a form of ‘electioneering’.
David Cameron was in the city yesterday to confirm a deal that will bring new life to the empty shiphall in Portsmouth as firms Magma Structures and BAE Systems will set up shop at Portsmouth Naval Base.
Despite criticism from rivals, other city leaders welcome the fact more jobs will come to the city and the shiphall will once again be a hive of activity.
Portsmouth North Labour candidate John Ferrett, who is also a negotiations officer for the Prospect union, said: ‘We want to see more jobs coming into the city.
‘But we have looked at the announcements that have been made – and they are not too dissimilar to what the chancellor and the minister for Portsmouth have already said with regards to the companies coming to the yard.
‘There doesn’t seem to be a lot of new detail other than Magma Structures and BAE Systems will be operating from the naval base.
‘But Magma Structures will be relocating from Portchester, so we are struggling to see how that will create new jobs and BAE will be doing counter mine warfare, and from our understanding, BAE will be doing that using its existing resources.
‘This looks very much like electioneering on the part of the Conservative Party.
‘The infrastructure work on the naval base has also always been necessary, ever since it was said the naval carriers would be based here.’
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘Any new jobs coming into the city has got to be welcomed and I am really pleased more work is coming into the city. We need to see more detail about the BAE bid. My understanding of the situation is, there were no bids to do complex and large shipbuilding in the shipbuilding hall.’
He questioned whether there would be more jobs created than the 1,000 lost as a result of BAE’s shipbuilding division being moved to the Clyde in Scotland.
Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, said: ‘I am glad the government has taken my advice and selected two of the three companies to work in the ship sheds.
‘There was never going to be large-scale shipbuilding again, that wasn’t realistic,’ he said. ‘We have to be generous in saying there are jobs going to be created, in a space that would have otherwise stood empty.’