Portsmouth council bosses to write to the PM urging him to back city’s shipbuilding hopes

A computer-generated picture of the forthcoming Type 26 warship
A computer-generated picture of the forthcoming Type 26 warship
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

Defence secretary refuses Treasury demands for military cuts

  • It comes as MoD reveals new £427m deal to build navy’s next generation of warship
  • The investment could bring scores of jobs to the city
  • Council’s Lib Dem leader asks for the PM to fulfil his pledge to Portsmouth
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CITY council leaders have agreed to write to the prime minister calling on him to fix Portsmouth’s shipbuilding woes.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence yesterday revealed it would give £472m to defence giant BAE Systems to build the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 Global Combat Ship which could bring scores of jobs to Portsmouth.

When you (David Cameron) gave that pledge to the people of Portsmouth you gave hope to people – that hope has now gone

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat leader for Portsmouth City Council

The motion to write to the PM was tabled by Liberal Democrat boss, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who argued that Mr Cameron had ‘failed to fulfil his pledge to the people of Portsmouth’ of bringing back jobs to the city.

Labour leader John Ferrett branded not using the naval base’s shiphall for shipbuilding an ‘absolute travesty’.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘When you (David Cameron) gave that pledge to the people of Portsmouth you gave hope to people – that hope has now gone.

‘Please put it back and please create the jobs that we need here in Portsmouth in the shipbuilding hall.’

Tory city council leader Donna Jones said the move to ditch shipbuilding and the collapse of Magma Systems’ move into the shiphall was disappointing.

However, she said the government was ‘putting its money where its mouth was’ with £100m already being spent on upgrading the naval base in preparation for the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

She also welcomed the MoD’s cash boost to BAE to construct the navy’s new warships which will replace the aging Type 23 frigates on a like-for-like basis within the city.

She explained to councillors that as part of the deal, the Type 26’s combat management system would be developed at BAE Broad Oak in Hilsea and at Portsdown Hill, while the radars would be made in Cowes.

All in all, the investment would bring about 200 jobs to the defence firm – some of which would be based in Portsmouth.

‘That’s 200 jobs that BAE Systems will be doing in Portsmouth, so again, new jobs in the naval base boosting our local economy,’ Cllr Jones added.

Effective from April, the 15-month contract extends the current demonstration phase ensuring to develop the Type 26’s designs and to manufacture key equipment for the first three vessels.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon – the former Minister for Portsmouth – said: ‘These highly advanced ships will help keep Britain safe and support our shipbuilding industry.

‘Investing in them is part of our plan to increase defence spending so our armed forces have the most modern equipment they need.’

In last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, the government pledged to build at least eight.

Each ship is expected to have a lifespan of up to 30 years with the first in operation by 2020.

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said the news would help secure jobs in the city and could create more.

‘Portsmouth now has an important high-technology role to play in the design and manufacture of the systems these ships will use,’ she said.

‘It also shows that the city is able to meet the challenge of helping to develop complex warships to meet the needs of the Royal Navy in the years to come.’