New hope in shipbuilding contract bid

Efforts continue to save shipbuilding in Portsmouth
Efforts continue to save shipbuilding in Portsmouth

Portsmouth MP aims to tackle loneliness with campaign

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Members of the partnership behind the plans to keep shipbuilding in Portsmouth say they are buoyed by a meeting with city MP Penny Mordaunt.

Sarah Stanton and Vince Burdett, of Portsmouth Shipbuilding, met with the Portsmouth North MP yesterday to discuss a proposal she will put to the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, on their behalf.

They hope the motion for the partnership to take on the contract to build one Offshore Patrol Vessel(OPV) in the city, after BAE leaves in September 2014, will be given extra weight with support from Ms Mordaunt.

Sarah said: ‘They are going to consider options to take everything to the next stage.

‘Penny is going to table a proposal to the Secretary of State and we should get some feedback on that. The most important thing is they’ve acknowledged there are definite options.

‘They are looking at if the OPV (offshore patrol vessel) is a viable option. Because of the defence budget she (Ms Mordaunt) is not convinced it will be. That means we will need to get a commercial order book or export order. Shipbuilding is viable. We are looking at how can we make it work between now and the handover period in September. ‘It has been just a month since the decision was made and what we wanted to achieve was basically to get our proposal on the table and to stop any decision about retraining or doing anything that could preclude shipbuilding happening in the future.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage yesterday questioned in Parliament the effect BAE’s shipbuilding decision will have on its supply chain.

Ms Dinenage said in the House of Commons: ‘The BAE announcement of plans to cease shipbuilding in Portsmouth will have not only an impact on their own employees but those in the wider supply chain. What steps are being taken to support small to medium enterprises through this difficult time?’

Defence minister Philip Dunne replied: ‘The decision from BAE will have a significant impact locally but the Honourable Lady will be well aware there are more than 11,000 people who will continue to be employed in the naval base at and that will maintain vital jobs for SMEs throughout the supply chain.’