Minister: Portsmouth will make a ‘huge contribution’ to Sir Ben’s team

An artist's impression of ''Ben Ainslie's America's Cup base in  Portsmouth
An artist's impression of ''Ben Ainslie's America's Cup base in Portsmouth

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Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon says Portsmouth will make a huge contribution to the ‘winning team’ Sir Ben Ainslie is putting together.

Mr Fallon welcomed the announcement of a £7.5m funding boost from the government to launch the project in the city.

Government support for the project was a key recommendation of a recent report by Rear-Admiral Rob Stevens which looked at how to boost growth and jobs in the marine and maritime industries in Portsmouth and the Solent.

The report was commissioned by Mr Fallon shortly after he was appointed to the post as the city’s minister.

Mr Fallon told The News: ‘Portsmouth is the natural home for this base so we fought very hard to get the funding together from different departments.

‘It is a huge boost across the board to jobs, to the local economy and for skills.’

Dismissing claims in the Sunday Times by Labour MPs that £8m should not be spent on an ‘elitist sport’, Mr Fallon said: ‘This will bring a huge boost across the city, but more importantly it will enthuse young people. You don’t have to be wealthy to take up sailing, it is not an elitist sport.’

Mr Fallon added: ‘I’ve been flying the flag for this iconic project across government and am delighted that we are supporting it.

‘This is a historic opportunity for Portsmouth and the Solent’s economy, tourism, marine industry and skills base.

‘Portsmouth can make a huge contribution to the winning team Sir Ben Ainslie is putting together.’

The money will come from a package put together by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Business secretary Vince Cable added: ‘This is intelligently targeted government investment in the future of Portsmouth and the Solent.

‘This part of the country has faced some tough times, but Sir Ben Ainslie’s project will be a welcome boost to the local economy.

‘It will create new jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities for young people by building on existing strengths in areas like marine and tourism.’