Business leaders hail £600m boost for Portsmouth Naval Base

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BUSINESS leaders have welcomed the £600m investment in Portsmouth’s Naval Base.

Kevin Briscoe, the chairman of the Portsmouth Area Committee of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, and a director at the Fareham-based Briscoe French PR agency, said it recognised the vital role the city plays in defence.

‘This is fantastic news for Portsmouth and for the whole region and is a reflection of the great work that has gone on for many years in the dockyard,’ he said.

‘Of course losing the shipbuilding function earlier this year was a big blow to the area but this contract award recognises the vital role that Portsmouth plays in the maritime defence of the country and is a real boost to the economic confidence of the whole region.

‘The dockyard and the city have had a really good relationship with BAE Systems and they have employed people from right across the south to work on the Royal Navy’s ships, so cementing their position in this region for at least the next five years is great news for the whole business community in this part of Hampshire.’

Matthew Hancock, minister for Portsmouth, said: ‘This is great news for Portsmouth and adds a further chapter to its proud maritime history.

‘Not only will this significant contract protect over 2,000 highly-skilled jobs, it is a clear demonstration of how Portsmouth is truly open for business.

‘Working closely across Government it shows that Portsmouth’s voice is heard in every corner of government.’

Commodore Jeremy Rigby, the commander of Portsmouth Naval Base, said the Government announcement paves the way for work to be completed to modernise the base and make way for the navy’s new aircraft carriers.

Cdre Rigby said: ‘Today is another of the key building blocks that demonstrates the confidence everyone should have in the future of Portsmouth going forward.

‘We can now concentrate on working on the projects that need to be completed as we turn this into a 21st century naval base, given the fact the navy will be here until at least 2070.

‘This has got the investment coming in to it that will make it an operational naval base until at least the end of the century and that is a very exciting place to be.’