Minister for Portsmouth unveils ‘blueprint’ for the maritime future of area

Picture: Isle of Wight Radio/PA Wire

REGIONAL: Asda apologises after mis-spelling Isle of Wight on carrier bags for new island store

3
Have your say

It’s billed as the blueprint for Portsmouth’s future, and city leaders have given their backing to a new report aimed at boosting jobs in the area.

Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon has unveiled a list of recommendations aimed at giving the area a shot in the arm following the closure of the city shipyard.

(l-r) Gary Jeffries, chairman of the Solent LEP, Rob Stevens, author of the Solent Maritime report, Minister of Portsmouth Michael Fallon, managing director of Magma Structures Clive Johnson and Penny Mordaunt MP, with a copy of the report.''Picture: Sarah Standing (14143-1316) PPP-140415-171923001

(l-r) Gary Jeffries, chairman of the Solent LEP, Rob Stevens, author of the Solent Maritime report, Minister of Portsmouth Michael Fallon, managing director of Magma Structures Clive Johnson and Penny Mordaunt MP, with a copy of the report.''Picture: Sarah Standing (14143-1316) PPP-140415-171923001

The report, carried out by a maritime task force led by Rear-Admiral Rob Stevens, identifies the best routes to bringing in more jobs and investment.

Part of the plan includes a £10.5m bid for improvements at Portsmouth’s port, as revealed in The News yesterday.

Other recommendations include the construction of a business innovation centre in Portsmouth which could lead to 500 jobs in 10 years.

Penny Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, said: ‘This is a very clear plan of action, it’s more than just a vision. It tells us exactly what we’ve got to do and by when, so I’m confident its findings will come to pass.

‘No-one has ever done this before. All the amazing things we’ve got here have just grown up organically around our dockyard.

‘No-one has got all the businesses together and asked them what they need to get to the next level, and to achieve their ambitions and win more investment, and that’s what this report does.’

The report was unveiled yesterday by its author, Rear-Adml Stevens, and Mr Fallon.

They revealed their findings during a visit to Portchester firm Magma Structures.

Mr Fallon told The News: ‘This is the blueprint for Portsmouth’s future.

‘There are some very important proposals in here.

‘There’s a big ask for government, who will be going through each of these recommendations.

‘I asked Rear-Adml Stevens to look more broadly at the city in the wake of the shipyard closure and its marine and maritime strengths to see how we could retain some of the excellence there.

‘Portsmouth is sitting on the edge of the world’s busiest sea highway, from Shanghai to Rotterdam.

‘There are huge strengths here not just in boatbuilding but also professional services, and business services associated with marine and maritime.

‘All these things need to be looked at and he has identified the way forward for the city and for the Solent.’

Mr Fallon said he commissioned the report in November last year, immediately after the announcement by BAE Systems that it would be suspending its shipbuilding operations in the city, but before his appointment as minister for Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, 14 different firms have come forward in just over a week since the appointment of a firm to market the shipyard to potential new occupiers.

Initiatives worth millions aimed at helping the city

THE man behind the new blueprint for Portsmouth’s maritime future has urged city leaders to work with other parts of the Solent.

But there are some initiatives in the newly-released report which would specifically benefit Portsmouth, including:

· A bid for £10.5m of improvements to be made at Portsmouth International Port;

· The creation of a Portsmouth Marine Enterprise Hub, which would need £1.5m of funding and would lead to 500 jobs over 10 years;

· Investment in the University of Portsmouth to develop a shallow water testing platform at Langstone Harbour, boosting the local facilities maritime firms can use;

· An extra £200,000 to help the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust’s ambition to transform one of the dockyard’s oldest buildings into a traditional boatbuilding workshop;

· An £8m bid for funding to help Sir Ben Ainslie set up a permanent base for his America’s Cup sailing bid in the Camber docks in Old Portsmouth.

Report author Rear-Admiral Rob Stevens told The News: ‘It’s about bringing together the whole area as the Solent.

‘Individual councils work for their areas but sometimes working together as a whole area is important and will bring greater growth.

‘I hope people will recognise the need for unity in the area and have hope that it will bring investment.

‘I have enjoyed writing this report because the potential in this area is enormous and it will be great to realise that.’

READ THE REPORT: You can download a copy of the report by clicking here.