I PROMISE to be a champion for this region and do my utmost to ensure prospects are improved for everyone.
That’s the vow made by minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois as he made clear his firm commitment to the role.
I see my role really as one that’s being a champion for Portsmouth in Whitehall, chasing up projects that need chasing up and making sure Portsmouth’s voice is heard.New minister for Portsmouth, Mark Francois
In an exclusive interview with The News, the former armed forces minister said he will be an ‘extra batsman’ campaigning on behalf of Portsmouth in government.
And while he doesn’t have a ’bag of gold’ up his sleeve, Mr Francois said he will chase up ministers to pull in money for improvements.
He said it was key he helped deliver on the package of improvements city leaders want to see.
It comes after Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt outlined in a letter to Mr Francois she wants him to lobby for cash to improve roads, small businesses and the creative industries so more diverse jobs are created.
Speaking during a visit to Portsmouth yesterday, Mr Francois said: ‘I have come early on in my time, and I have come to listen and to learn. I see my role really as one that’s being a champion for Portsmouth in Whitehall, chasing up projects that need chasing up and making sure Portsmouth’s voice is heard.
‘I am going to do my best for the people of Portsmouth, and I want to help them with the issues they face.
He added: ‘I can’t promise as minister for Portsmouth I have come here with a bag of gold, but what I can do is, with the help of Cllr Donna Jones (council leader) and the rest of the council, fight for what this city needs in terms of money for transport and the creative industries.
‘Part of my role is to make sure Portsmouth gets a fair crack of the whip.’
Mr Francois said he is also keen to get answers over when composite structure builder Magma Structures is coming to the dockyard.
It comes after city leaders raised their frustrations that the prime minister did not give a clear answer after Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South, raised the question in parliament this week.
Mr Francois was also given a tour of the naval base yesterday to get a better understanding of its future.
‘The people of Portsmouth are already served by two very good MPs in Penny Mordaunt and Flick Drummond. They are joined by Cllr Jones and her administration,’ he said.
‘She has already got people batting for this region and now we have an extra batsman.’