HE’S the man who hasn’t given us answers we desperately need – and that remains the case despite the Prime Minister only being 20 miles away from Portsmouth yesterday.
It’s been 51 days since The News wrote an open letter calling on David Cameron to reverse the decision to end shipbuilding in the city, a move that puts 940 jobs at risk.
So we were dismayed to learn that despite taking the time to publicise his Help to Buy home ownership scheme in Southampton, the Prime Minister couldn’t spare time to come and discuss ways of breathing new life into our shipbuilding industry.
Our letter was signed by the city’s MPs and councillors across the political divide, and I was tasked with tracking down the Tory leader yesterday to find out whether he was going to address what we’ve said.
While some readers may think this was a pointless exercise, it’s clear that Portsmouth has been overlooked – and the Prime Minister is showing no interest in safeguarding jobs and securing the future of hard-working families that live here.
Nor does he want to talk to us about ways Portsmouth’s shipyard can be retained for alternative purposes and used by other clients besides BAE Systems.
Southampton’s media outlets were told of his visit on New Year’s Day and The News only found out yesterday morning he was in Hampshire.
And to make matters worse, Downing Street wasn’t keen about releasing details of Mr Cameron’s schedule for security reasons.
So time was against me as I hit the road in search of the Tory leader.
My first point of call was Centenary Quay in Vosper Road, where I was told he’d be touring the new homes development.
But as soon as I arrived, staff told me he’d left half an hour before. Then it was back in the car after a call came in that Mr Cameron was at Whiteley doing an interview at ITV Meridian’s studios in Whiteley, near Fareham.
But yet again I was still without luck as I spotted the Prime Minister being driven away while I parked up.
I thought my fortune would change when discovering he was at BBC South studios back in Southampton next, but once again he had vanished by the time I arrived. There wasn’t any indication he was going anywhere next, so it was time to admit defeat and return to the office.
I came away frustrated, and that’s how everyone feels as each opportunity to sort this out is turned down. Yes, we shouldn’t turn our nose up at the fact Mr Cameron came to celebrate the success of a housing scheme which has helped to transform the lives of many council tenants.
But if he thinks lavishing praise on our rival city and pretending that there aren’t issues that need sorting out at all half an hour up the road, then he can think again.
Surely a short meeting with concerned unions, employees and city leaders yesterday wouldn’t have been too much to ask for.
The begging question is, why does Mr Cameron continue to ignore us?
We want to hear it from Mr Cameron’s own mouth that the decision to end 500 years of shipbuilding history in Portsmouth was not done for the sake of the Scottish vote.
We want to know why none of three Ocean Patrol Vessels can be constructed here.
Why do ministers feel that a visit isn’t necessary?
Our challenge to you Mr Cameron is this; come to Portsmouth and tell us what you think.