A group of businesses behind the plan to create the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Company say David Cameron’s commitment to the shipyard is ‘fantastic’.
As reported in The News, the group, led by Portsmouth-based marine consultants Stanton Burdett, wants to form the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Company, to keep the industry alive in the city.
They have welcomed the intervention of prime minister David Cameron in a letter to Portsmouth today.
Director Sarah Stanton said: ‘This response from David Cameron is fantastic, and I think it shows they want to put a wrong right.
‘The appointment of Michael Fallon as a Minister for Portsmouth speaks volumes because it is a very bold move for the government to make unless they are sure they will succeed. I still think there is a very strong argument that we should have an offshore patrol vessel built in Portsmouth and that is part of the discussion we want to have with Michael Fallon.
‘It would keep the Portsmouth yard busy for three years, giving the government a mitigation option should the other programmes run over, or whatever the outcome of the Scottish referendum.’
The group recently met former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord Alan West to get backing for their business proposal.
Mr Cameron has written exclusively to The News to offer his support to Portsmouth in the wake of the loss of naval shipbuilding.
It comes days after the prime minister took the extraordinary step of appointing senior Tory MP Michael Fallon to become a Minister for Portsmouth.
Mr Cameron was responding to an open letter published on the front page of this newspaper days after the announcement that BAE Systems would be closing its shipbuilding operations in the city.
In his reply he said the government would ‘go all out’ in the next few months to make sure Portsmouth’s shipyard will remain strong, successful, and respected around the world.
He said there is ‘significant, untapped potential’ for the city’s shipbuilding industry, and revealed a number of commercial shipping firms have already expressed an interest in relocating here.
‘The message now needs to go out clearly and unambiguously that Portsmouth is open for business,’ he said.
Politicians and union leaders have reacted positively to the prime minister’s public commitment.
BACKGROUND ON THIS STORY
· The Portsmouth Shipbuilding Company unveils its vision for the shipyard. The News; December 13, 2013.