Speaking out to calm fears was the right thing to do

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When you consider what the Royal Navy means to Portsmouth, it’s right that some words of reassurance have been forthcoming from the Ministry of Defence about the future of the naval base.

At a time when so many people are understandably worried about what the business review BAE Systems is conducting will mean for our city, this really wasn’t an time for the MoD to stay silent.

Of course, the role the shipbuilding company plays in Portsmouth is massive. That goes without saying.

Around 3,000 workers and their families rely on BAE for an income and any decision that the company makes about its future will have a tremendous impact on all of them.

It’s therefore not surprising that those concerns should spill over, prompting questions about the future of the naval base itself.

So the fact that the MoD has moved to calm those fears is important.

We make no apologies for being proud of Portsmouth’s status as the home of the Royal Navy.

Despite the challenges the navy has faced – and there have been so many in recent years, not least the Strategic Defence and Security Review – there is still a great deal to admire and respect about the senior service.

For all those with a personal connection to the navy, Portsmouth will always hold a special place in their hearts.

And just as the navy has shaped Portsmouth, the city’s people have undoubtedly had a hand in carving out the character of the service.

The MoD’s decision to retain all three of its naval bases was an important one at the time.

Now we welcome the fact that there will be no revisiting of that decision in light of what BAE might do in the future.

We should all be pleased that any cuts that are made won’t be allowed to impact on the number of warships based here in Portsmouth.

Now we know the naval base itself is safe, we must hope BAE recognises what it means to Portsmouth and concludes its review by deciding that its future is here.

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