A NEW bid to safeguard the future of Portsmouth’s shipyard has been revealed.
City-based marine consultant Stanton Burdett is bidding to become a marketing agent that would oversee how many commercial companies want to work at the yard.
The role is out for tender and could be filled in the next four to six weeks.
The proposal is that the agent would attract a large organisation, which would become leaseholder of the yard and continue shipbuilding in Portsmouth.
It is a change of direction from what Stanton Burdett originally wanted to do, which was to push for the navy to commission another Ocean Patrol Vessel (OPV) to be built at the yard by another company under the same design spec as BAE Systems.
As previously reported, BAE is moving its shipbuilding operation to the Clyde in Scotland by the end of the year, a move that has put 940 jobs at risk in Portsmouth.
Stanton Burdett originally would have worked with four other companies under the guise of the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group to manage the naval programme and commercial shipbuilding.
But Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, has now recommended the company puts itself forward for the marketing agent position, being created by the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which runs the MoD’s estates.
Ms Mordaunt said the original idea is no longer being pursued because Stanton Burdett did not realise it would have to enter into a major lease agreement – nor does the navy plan to commission another OPV.
But she said that did not matter, since 25 companies have shown an interest in pursuing other projects at Portsmouth shipyard, enabling a strong order book.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘We have got ships and marine technology companies that have started building a series of ships and which are very interested in Portsmouth.
‘We don’t have and don’t need a bogus order of Royal Navy work, which is what the Portsmouth Shipbuilding plan was before.’
The MoD says the tender programme for the marketing agent role is currently only open to the government’s own services, since the yard is on government land.
But Ms Mordaunt has written to defence minister Philip Dunne urging the MoD to consider opening it up to local companies like Stanton Burdett, which can put its local knowledge of the yard and marine consultancy expertise to good use.
‘Stanton Burdett has just the sort of expertise and skills that would benefit DIO,’ said Ms Mordaunt.
‘The government would be doing itself a favour if it allowed people with local knowledge to bid for this work.’
Sarah Stanton, a director of Stanton Burdett, said Ms Mordaunt had made some ‘very positive moves’ regarding discussions with DIO, but did not want to discuss things further at the moment.