Portsmouth dock deal collapse fears are ‘nonsense’ says minister

A fitter cutting steel inside the C ring of one of the new aircraft carrier
A fitter cutting steel inside the C ring of one of the new aircraft carrier
( l-r) Steve Radley, Peter Lee and Ashley Neve. Picture: Lawrence Rowe

Veterans share stories as part of University of Portsmouth project

  • Prime minister comes under renewed pressure following dockyard deal delay
  • Civic leaders claim David Cameron announced the plan as a general election sweetener
  • Armed forces minister refutes this, claiming scheme is still on track
Have your say

FRESH fears for the future of Portsmouth’s shipyard have been raised amid claims the prime minister has ‘broken his promise’ to the city.

In February, David Cameron revealed BAE Systems and Magma Structures would set up shop at Portsmouth Naval Base, breathing fresh life into the site.

But months on and with the shiphall still vacant, Mr Cameron has come under renewed pressure to ensure action is taken.

Civic leaders feel the prime minister – who made repeated promises to The News before the general election that he would save the shiphall – needs to ensure work begins sooner rather than later.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘I’m worried the prime minister has said that we will have shipbuilding back and he 
has not delivered on this promise.

‘That’s not right for the people of Portsmouth.’

The notion that this is just being left adrift is nonsense.

Portsmouth North MP and armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt

Concern was backed by Labour group leader and Prospect union negotiations officer, John Ferrett, who said: ‘It feels like all the promises that were made were done so in order to try and buy some time during the general election campaign.’

But Tory MP for Portsmouth North and armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt has defended the PM.

She explained there had been a delay in the lease agreement of the site – but this was only in an effort to try to iron out a better investment deal with Magma.

‘We put the brakes on it because we wanted to secure some more things for Magma,’ said Ms Mordaunt.

She explained Mr Cameron was keen to have the deal agreed as soon as possible but Ms Mordaunt felt that a better investment solution could be struck benefiting both Magma and the city.

Speaking of the criticism, Ms Mordaunt added: ‘The notion that this is just being left adrift is nonsense.

‘There’s activity going on all the time and it’s going to be absolutely fantastic. John and Gerald don’t know what’s going on.’

A spokeswoman for Magma Structures said plans were ‘still on track’ and that ‘contracts were being finalised’.

The Ministry of Defence added it was working to ‘finalise and agree the lease terms’.