PARTS of Portsmouth and Gosport could be in for a huge boost as a bid for European Union cash is now finalised.
The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has asked the government to consider the Portsmouth Harbour area for assisted area status after 940 shipbuilding jobs were axed by BAE Systems.
If successful, EU cash could be given to companies in the area, including for capital investment.
As reported in The News, city council leader Councillor Gerald-Vernon Jackson met with the new Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon about the plans.
The bid, which originally did not include the city or Gosport, was submitted on Friday.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson is optimistic about the submission.
He said: ‘It’s a really important bid. We weren’t going to go for it but we were encouraged by ministers to apply.
‘We weren’t on the original map and they’re only allowed to put a certain proportion of the UK population into assisted area status. So it isn’t a done deal but if we are able to get it then it will mean firms in the areas will get money from the EU.’
Mr Fallon has the final say on assisted area applications.
Businesses that could benefit would have to be in Copnor, North End, Stamshaw, Landport, Buckland, Portsea or Somers Town. Harbour-side wards in Gosport will also be included.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said the bid was done as the initiative has a ‘special consideration for areas that have been under a uniquely difficult time’.
She said she and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt wrote to the Solent LEP.
She added: ‘Penny and I wrote two or three weeks ago asking them if they could... make a special case in the light of the dockyard jobs.
‘Effectively it’s the Portsmouth Harbour area but certain wards from Gosport and Portsmouth North and South qualify.
‘We’ve always been reticent on the south coast to apply for some of the European funding that’s available because we’ve always presumed that the world sees us as this leafy, affluent area.
‘But we’ve seen decline in our employment provided by the navy and the defence industry in our region. If this had been a mining community in the north of England or the Midlands, government would have thrown cash to us to sort it out.’