City minister is a good start... now we need to see action

Rick Jackson believes Big Ben's bongs should not be silenced

RICK JACKSON: Our las total eclipse was typically British – cloudy

0
Have your say

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when Portsmouth stands united, we can make the most powerful people in the land sit up and listen.

It certainly seems somebody out there is listening now.

A few days after the devastating news BAE Systems was to shut down shipbuilding operations in the city, a group of MPs and councillors from all parties, along with union leaders, met at the headquarters of The News.

The result of much discussion was an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, published on the front page the next day, calling for a named minister to come to Portsmouth’s aid.

That person would act as a single point of contact for discussions between city leaders, unions, BAE Systems, other interested parties, and the government.

Today we can report that Conservative MP Michael Fallon is imminently to be named the new Minister for Portsmouth.

Is it cynical electioneering or just what Portsmouth needs?

Only time will tell, and it would be wrong of us to judge at this early stage.

Either way, it is a bold and unusual move which shows the needs of the city cannot be simply brushed under the carpet.

We must wait to see the full extent of Mr Fallon’s involvement, and what the job of a Minister for Portsmouth will actually entail.

It would be easy to dismiss the appointment as an empty gesture, but it is important to give Mr Fallon a chance.

Time is not on our side, but that is no excuse to sneer at a helping hand.

Nobody can undo what has already happened.

But it can only be helpful for city leaders to now have a hotline to the government, and one more person on our side.

Nevertheless, work needs to be done now, and we – along with the rest of the city – will be watching closely.

We hope the minister will find time to visit Portsmouth as soon as possible, and get down to business helping those workers who have been left with an uncertain future.