Lord Mayor of Portsmouth vows to take the BAE battle to David Cameron

A section of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers leaves Portsmouth dockyard last May
A section of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers leaves Portsmouth dockyard last May

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THE Lord Mayor of Portsmouth will lobby Prime Minister David Cameron against the closure of BAE Systems’ shipyard in the city.

Councillor Lynne Stagg has agreed to take the city’s party leaders to Downing Street to help step up the fight to prevent 940 workers facing redundancy between the end of this year and the latter part of 2014.

She agreed to the move put forward by Cllr Mike Hancock at the end of a meeting of the full council yesterday, where everyone agreed further action needed to be taken.

Cllr Hancock said: ‘We have to show that the whole of the city is behind this and by being led by the first citizen of Portsmouth, this isn’t a party political thing.

‘It’s right and proper she leads this city out together and presents the Prime Minister with the facts of what we are facing in Portsmouth, and make a strong case to him about the issues the council unanimously agrees upon.’

Cllr Stagg said: ‘500 years of shipbuilding history has gone down the pan.

‘We have got skilled people here and we have a set up which is ideal for patrol vessels, and this decision has been made for a political reason.

‘The government wants to prevent, if it can, Scotland wanting to become independent.’

A motion was put forward by Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, council leader, which said the decommissioning of shipbuilding facilities shouldn’t happen because if Scotland votes in favour of independence at next year’s referendum, that would mean the end of advanced manufacturing in the UK.

‘The decision made was a black day for the city and a black day for the country and for the Royal Navy,’ he said.

‘It’s important we stand together and deliver a single message.’

He called for existing work on carriers to stay put and at least one of three newly-announced Ocean Patrol Vessels should be built in Portsmouth.

As previously reported, BAE Systems announced last Wednesday it will close down the city’s shipyard and move the firm’s shipbuilding operation to the Clyde, in Scotland.

Cllr Donna Jones, Conservative group leader, expanded on this and asked for Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to visit and address the situation as soon as possible.

She said: ‘This is a very grave situation for us. When looking at the situation, we need to consider why we found ourselves in this position.’

Government departments are being asked to tell the council what action has been taken to seek export markets for British warships.

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