Portsmouth shiphall deal ‘still on track’ despite delays

20/4/11  ''Aerial views of Portsmouth and the surrouning areas viewed from one of the Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre's Motor Gliders.'Pictured is Portsmouth Naval base with Gosport top right''Picture: Paul Jacobs (111408-13) ENGPPP00120130711182902
20/4/11 ''Aerial views of Portsmouth and the surrouning areas viewed from one of the Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre's Motor Gliders.'Pictured is Portsmouth Naval base with Gosport top right''Picture: Paul Jacobs (111408-13) ENGPPP00120130711182902
Jim Booth lays a wreath on The Copp Memorial on Hayling Island in 2015 

Picture: Malcolm Wells (150701-4775)

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MAGMA Structures’ deal to move in to Portsmouth’s shiphall is ‘well on track’, the company has stressed.

But the city will have to wait until next year to see the composite structure giant’s new HQ – something which Portsmouth’s former leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson says is ‘disappointing’.

It comes amid ongoing delays caused by legal wrangles over leasing terms for the Trafalgar Wharf-based firm’s move.

However, despite the hurdles, a spokeswoman for the company insisted they would open early next year.

‘There are still lots of discussions and it’s all going forward – hopefully in the new year,’ she added.

It means that by the time Magma opens its new base, almost a year would have passed since prime minister David Cameron announced the move in February.

This has frustrated Portsmouth’s former council leader and Lib Dem boss, Mr Vernon-Jackson.

He said: ‘We have lost 1,000 jobs in shipbuilding in the city. And for all the stuff the prime minister said, all we have actually got is people moving existing jobs into shiphall.

‘I’m glad that the facility is being used but no new jobs have been created and no shipbuilding has come to the country which is what the prime minister promised he would do.

‘So I remain really disappointed that David Cameron promised us that there would be shipbuilding here and nothing like that has happened.

‘That’s really sad for Portsmouth.’

However, Tory MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond urged people to be patient.

She said the delays had occurred due to complex lease negotiations.

‘Anyone knows that contracts take time to negotiate and it has to be right for both parties,’ she added.

‘But Magma is moving in.’

Magma and BAE Systems were announced by the PM as the two firms selected to occupy the shiphall facility, left vacant following the end of shipbuilding in the city.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said the government was ‘working hard’ to maintain the city’s ‘proud maritime traditions’ and that leases negotiations were almost finalised.

She added: ‘We are pleased with the progress and look forward to formally welcoming Magma Structures to the Shiphall early next year.’