Renewed concern over the future of Portsmouth’s shipyard

The shipbuilding sheds now carry the logo of the Royal Navy, replacing that of BAE Systems. Below, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
The shipbuilding sheds now carry the logo of the Royal Navy, replacing that of BAE Systems. Below, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson

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FRESH concerns have been raised shipbuilding will not make a return to Portsmouth.

Former council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, says the removal of the BAE Systems sign on the shiphall indicates there are no serious bids for its future use from shipbuilders.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Gerald Vernon-Jackson

The sign has been replaced with one displaying the Royal Navy logo as the Ministry of Defence has taken the hall back for the time being.

And there is uncertainty given no announcement has been made by the government over the shipyard’s future – despite assurances being given by defence secretary Michael Fallon that that would happen in January.

Lib Dem councillor Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I am very worried.

‘The prime minister has said that he will make sure there is going to be shipbuilding taking place in there.

‘So far, it looks as if there have been no bids, and the government has not come clean and produced the jobs it said it would.’

John Ferrett, negotiations officer for The Prospect Union, said he raised concerns to BAE Systems about the removal of the shiphall sign given the defence giant still has a big presence in the city.

‘We said it was important given thousands of people are employed by BAE,’ he said.

‘Given the fury around the closure of shipbuilding, we felt it was important BAE continued to show it was a major player there.

‘There are still 250 engineers working on that particular part of that site.’

He added: ‘It’s worrying there is no news over the future of shipbuilding.

‘We have heard nothing about new businesses going in there.’

As reported, minister for Portsmouth Matthew Hancock revealed three bids were being considered by the government, and among them were deals from shipbuilders.

Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt insisted a decision was imminent and assured the removal of the BAE sign was just to show the MoD had taken it.

Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the council, said: ‘With regards to the future of the dockyard, I am confident there will be shipbuilding of some kind.’