THE door has been slammed shut on efforts to claw back from Whitehall £300,981 set aside to bring new businesses into Portsmouth’s shiphall.
Fresh controversy surrounded the dockyard facility after it emerged the cash – which the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership was tasked with awarding to a commercial manufacturer – never got spent and was sent back to the government.
Where funds could not be spent on the purpose agreed and/or within the timescale, under the terms of the Grant Offer Letter, monies are recovered by RGF beneficiaries. Returned funds have then been recycled to support other RGF applications.Government spokesperson
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which originally sent down the cash via a Regional Growth Fund which LEPs across the country were able to make bids for, has now confirmed the cash has been ‘recycled’ to support other applications.
It comes despite Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt insisting she got a guarantee Portsmouth’s share of the fund would stay and that she would now try to get it back.
Unions have also criticised the mix-up and attitudes towards trying to breathe new life into the shiphall, the bulk of which was formerly used for shipbuilding until BAE Systems pulled out.
A BEIS spokesperson said: ‘RGF was awarded under competitive bidding rounds for specific projects or programmes.
‘Successful applications were awarded with a Grant Offer Letter providing funds for a particular purpose within a specified time period.
‘Where funds could not be spent on the purpose agreed and/or within the timescale, under the terms of the Grant Offer Letter, monies are recovered by RGF beneficiaries. Returned funds have then been recycled to support other RGF applications.’
Former council leader and shipbuilding campaignerCouncillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson is dismayed the cash has been ‘stolen’ by the government.
He said: ‘David Cameron promised us shipbuilding was going to come back. That pledge was broken and now the money the government allocated has been stolen by the government.