Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor angry as David Cameron snubs request for shipbuilding talks

The ''Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Lynne Stagg
The ''Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Lynne Stagg
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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CITY Lord Mayor Lynne Stagg has spoken of her disappointment after David Cameron refused to meet her to discuss the future of Portsmouth’s shipbuilding industry.

Cllr Stagg wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to visit the dockyard and see why moving work to the Clyde, in Scotland – which puts 940 jobs at BAE Systems in Portsmouth at risk – was the wrong move.

Her letter, which was signed by members of the city’s main political groups, said she would even go to meet Mr Cameron at Downing Street if he didn’t have time.

But Portsmouth was let down yet again after a reply was sent back saying Mr Cameron would not be available because he was too busy.

This comes despite Mr Cameron finding the time to visit Southampton on Thursday to plug the government’s Help to Buy housing scheme.

It also follows the Prime Minister’s failure to respond to an open letter – signed by city leaders – which was published in The News 52 days ago and called on his to visit Portsmouth.

Cllr Stagg has instead been offered the chance to meet defence equipment minister Philip Dunne when he visits the area in March.

But she doesn’t think that’s good enough and intends to write again to Mr Cameron demanding an explanation.

‘I’m disappointed, and very angry, particularly since he has been down to Southampton,’ she said.

‘Portsmouth has been sidelined. It’s not just about the jobs.

‘It’s about the loss of shipbuilding and skills which is very important.’

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said: ‘I’ve expressed it before and I will say it again, it’s an indication of indifference from the government to the plight of workers here in Portsmouth.

‘The fact that the defence secretary can not even be bothered to answer a letter from the trade unions and the fact the Prime Minister was 20 miles down the road, but couldn’t come to meet people in the city is immensely disappointing.’

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Prime Minister was concerned about what was going on in Portsmouth, but couldn’t comment on his diary arrangements.