Timeline of Portsmouth shipbuilding decline

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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THIS timeline shows the decline of shipbuilding in Portsmouth over a year, from November 2013 until last month.

- November 6, 2013

An announcement is made that BAE Systems will end shipbuilding in Portsmouth, resulting in the loss of 940 jobs in the city.

- November 9

The first demonstration is held in city centre by trade unionists, protesting against job losses and the end of the shipbuilding industry in Portsmouth.

- November 12

The Portsmouth and Southampton City Deal is signed.

The new deal will provide £953m of investment into the Southampton and Portsmouth areas, creating more than 17,000 jobs.

- November 14

City leaders, along with the editor of The News, write to the prime minister, David Cameron, calling on him to ‘think again’. The letter, signed by political and trade union leaders and the city’s MPs, asks for a number of assurances, including a named government minister and to ensure the Ministry of Defence-owned land currently in use for shipbuilding at Portsmouth Naval Base will remain available to support that work.

- January 2, 2014

Fifty days passes without a response from the prime minister.

- January 16

A new minister for Portsmouth, the city’s first, Michael Fallon MP, is appointed.

- January 20

Prime minister David Cameron writes an open letter to the city, saying the government will do ‘its utmost to support Portsmouth’ by protecting the yard and retaining its shipbuilding.

- April 4

Lambert Smith Hampton is chosen to market the site on behalf of the government. The company talks to companies interested in using the facilities until the closing date of June 30.

- April 15

The Stevens Report, commissioned by Michael Fallon, is published, recommending a number of proposals to bring jobs and growth to the Solent region.

Published by Rear-Admiral Rob Stevens, Transforming the Solent makes 36 recommendations including doubling the number of cruise passengers using Portsmouth’s port, improving transport links between the Solent’s two cities, and securing funding for Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup headquarters in Portsmouth.

- July 1

Funding for Ben Ainslie Racing’s project is announced by the prime minister in Downing Street. The government will contribute £7.5m towards the £80m project in Old Portsmouth. A planning application for the base is later approved by Portsmouth City Council.

- July 15

A cabinet reshuffle leads to a change in minister for Portsmouth. Michael Fallon is moved from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to the Ministry of Defence.

Matthew Hancock, previously minister for skills and enterprise in the DfBIS, is appointed to the position.

- July 23

Newly appointed Matthew Hancock visits the city for the first time, announcing a £5m fund for a new UK Centre for Maritime Intelligent Systems at Portsdown Technology Park, following the prime minister’s announcement of Portsmouth being the centre’s home.

- August 18

The final block of HMS Prince of Wales, the second aircraft carrier of the HMS Queen Elizabeth class, leaves the city for Scotland. It symbolises the end of shipbuilding in the city.

- September 18

A referendum on Scottish independence is held. The ‘no’ result that keeps Scotland in the union is seen as the end of all hopes of retaining naval shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

- October 12

The minister for Portsmouth again visits the city, meeting Sir Ben Ainslie at his racing team’s new base at The Camber and signing the Solent Growth Deal at a private event in the naval base. The prime minister also visits the city and tells The News his government is ‘doing everything we can’ to encourage shipbuilding to remain in the city.

The full story can be read here.