MICHAEL Fallon has arrived in Portsmouth for the first time since being named the minister for the city.
The senior Tory MP is here to meet with city leaders to discuss the fallout from BAE Systems’ recent decision to close shipbuilding in Portsmouth.
The role of a minister for Portsmouth was created by Prime Minister David Cameron in response to the shipbuilding crisis.
It is the first time a government minister has been given responsibility for a specific city since Michael Heseltine was dubbed the minister for Merseyside in 1981.
Mr Fallon said: ‘We need to bring everything and everyone together and work with the politicians here and the city council to make sure we deliver a future for Portsmouth.
‘This is about Portsmouth and how we create new jobs.
‘I’m excited about this appointment. It is a unique appointment.
‘There hasn’t been a minister for a particular city for a long time, and we are going to try and make a difference here.
‘This is a city with a great heritage but also huge opportunities.’
Mr Fallon is due to meet with the leader of the council, other councillors, and the vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth at the Civic Offices in Portsmouth.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the leader of Portsmouth City Council, added: ‘I’m extremely pleased we have a minister.
‘He will be able to help us because he will know all the funding opportunities there are from the government and the European Union, to get additional support into Portsmouth.
‘He will bring the whole machinery of government into helping us.
‘I’m really grateful to the government for doing this.’
Vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, Professor Graham Galbraith, said: ‘The appointment of a Minister for Portsmouth is a very positive step for the city, which the university warmly welcomes.
‘The University of Portsmouth, as a leading centre for higher education, research and business engagement and as a major employer, is delighted to be a part of the minister’s first visit to Portsmouth.
‘Our meeting will give me the opportunity to personally express the university’s commitment to being an active partner in leading the future growth and success of the city.’