Look behind the photo op when visitors come around

COMMENT: Our public services can only take so much

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IT seems senior MPs are beating a path down the London Waterloo rail line and straight to our front door these days, doesn’t it?

Today we report on another visit to Portsmouth by defence secretary Philip Hammond, the latest in a long line of politicians who have visited our area in recent months.

You’re right to be cynical. It is fairly evident the Conservatives have their eye on Portsmouth South at the next General Election, and they may also been keen to redress the negative reaction to November’s closure of the shipyard.

We’ve welcomed Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Michael Gove, Philip Dunne, Sir George Young, Michael Fallon, Anna Soubry, Maria Miller, Nicky Morgan, Eric Pickles and Patrick McLoughlin to name but a few of the senior MPs who have visited in our area in recent months.

It is easy to dismiss their visits as cheap electioneering and nothing more than photo ops.

But that is because those are the parts that are often the most visible.

Often these visits yield valuable face-to-face time for people on the ground here in the city with those in the corridors of power at Whitehall.

Take, for instance, Mr Hammond’s visit to Portsmouth yesterday.

Upon his arrival, the MP went into a 10-minute private talk with officials from the naval base property trust and dockyard.

The News was not permitted inside the talks, but those involved came out afterwards satisfied they had the ear of someone who can help with their goals – whatever they may be.

What those discussions were about will surely be revealed in the fullness of time.

But across all areas – health, defence, crime, justice, energy – we are being given the opportunity to voice our concerns and our needs, and that can only be a good thing.

So we congratulate the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust and all those involved in getting this boathouse venture off the ground and earning the praise of Mr Hammond. And the more we invite those with power to see what we are capable of, the better.

For the full story click here.

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