STEADY trickles of investment are bringing the area closer to becoming the country’s maritime capital, according to one of the city’s MPs.
Penny Mordaunt said Portsmouth is now well on its way to building a brand as the heart of the maritime sector after a number of announcements, including this week’s decision to open up £5m to firms looking to invest in cutting edge underwater vehicles.
It comes as the new minister for Portsmouth, Matthew Hancock, made his first visit to the city this week.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘I think we have had a steady trickle of investment and it is all stuff that we need to get our amazing local businesses involved with.’
But not everyone is as upbeat about what the new minister can do for the city, or what his predecessor Michael Fallon did during his six months in the post.
Councillor John Ferrett, leader of the Labour group on Portsmouth City Council, who is also a negotiator for the Prospect union, said he is still ‘sceptical’ about the ministerial position existing.
He said: ‘I have been very sceptical about the concept of a minister for Portsmouth from the beginning.
‘I hoped that Michael Fallon would make some difference and do something about shipbuilding but I have not seen anything to reassure me.
‘Many of these announcements are just a PR exercise and I really don’t see what a minister can do.’
Mr Ferrett said the real test of the minister will be if a company is found to replace BAE Systems in the city’s shipyard.
‘The minister will have failed if he can’t find a replacement company to use the shipyard and bring jobs and skills back,’ he said.
Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, added: ‘Matthew’s appointment as minister of Portsmouth is very welcome indeed.
‘The announcement of £5m to be spent in the development of unmanned maritime technology is great news, coupled with the announcement last week about a Centre for Maritime Intelligence Systems to be based on Portsdown Hill, firmly secures Portsmouth’s future as a maritime centre of excellence in the world.’