A DEMAND has been made for the leader of Portsmouth City Council to rewrite a letter to David Cameron outlining the widespread dismay over his failure to bring back shipbuilding.
Councillor Donna Jones was ordered to write to the prime minister stepping up pressure over the future of the shipyard following an agreement made by the full council.
The letter shows real contempt for those people who lost their jobs, but it’s also contempt for the next generation of people who could have had jobs there.Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South
But she sent just a two-paragraph letter informing Mr Cameron the Lib Dems had called for answers over why there is no plan in place to build large scale ships – and that she was forced to write given she leads a Tory group that doesn’t hold a majority on the council.
And now political rivals say the lacklustre action is a ‘slap in the face’ to the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs – and needs to do the task again.
Cllr John Ferrett, Labour candidate for Portsmouth North, also blamed Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt for not backing the council leader and refusing to support the request.
‘The failure of the government, the failure of any local representatives who have not been prepared to keep naval building, is surely a slap in the face to those who lost their jobs,’ he said.
‘The prime minister has to keep his promise to bring shipbuilding here, and a letter should have been written on that basis.
‘If the current one doesn’t – and I am of the view it doesn’t – we should be sending another one.
He added: ‘It would have been helpful if Cllr Jones had conveyed the overwhelming view of the council, which was the city had been let down badly by central government in taking shipbuilding away.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said: ‘She should write again a letter that does show how angry people in Portsmouth are – not with just the fact we lost shipbuilding, but also that the prime minister has come down here, paraded around, and yet not been prepared to keep his word.
‘The letter shows real contempt for those people who lost their jobs, but it’s also contempt for the next generation of people who could have had jobs there. It’s also contempt for people in the city.’
‘Increasingly, we are seeing an arrogance in terms of the running of the city, which we think is concerning.’
The Lib Dem motion put before the full council, attached to the letter, said Mr Cameron did not live up to his promise to bring back shipbuilding as the two companies moving into the yard – BAE Systems and Magma Structures – will not be building ships or creating substantial numbers of new jobs.
Cllr Jones admitted the letter reflected the fact she did not support writing it – and ruled out writing another one.
She insisted Cllr Vernon-Jackson gave her guidance on what to write.
Cllr Jones said: ‘My answer is, Cllr Vernon-Jackson needs to grow up and think about why he got into politics in the first place, which was to represent local people rather than take pot shots at members of the opposition.
‘I worked the hardest, along with Penny, to ensure there wasn’t a severe detrimental impact to the economy of the Solent area.
‘I met Michael Fallon to talk about the minehunter contract going in there, and I have spoken to Magma Structures.’
But she added: ‘I thought the motion was petty, political point-scoring, put before the last full council meeting before the general election. The letter reflected the fact it was a motion that I did not support but one the full council supported.’