A little more transparency could ease yachting plan

Cheryl was lucky enough to sit next to 1980s pop star Sinitta, pictured here at a previous event   Picture: PA

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We’re firmly behind the project to bring the headquarters of Ben Ainslie Racing to this area as the company prepares for its assault on the America’s Cup.

As we – and indeed many others – have said before, having an America’s Cup team in our part of the Solent would be a feather in the cap for the area.

It would bring prestige, and also a huge degree of interest as people watched the crews heading to and from the Solent to practise and test their craft. As the artist’s impression of the proposed base shows, it would also bring a landmark to the Portsmouth waterfront.

So it is a real pity that a project that has real and genuine backing around the city does not yet have universal support, but in this case it does not appear to be just a case of nimbyism.

Most of the people who live in Old Portsmouth seem to be broadly in favour of the concept. What they take exception to is that they feel the plan is being railroaded through, that it has already been decided and that, to be frank, the consultation is a sham.

We wouldn’t use that word, but we understand their complaints. Much as there is a pressing need to get things moving, as two sites in Southampton are also under consideration and we do not want to miss out for the sake of bureaucracy, their claims have some merit.

There have been several meetings which, despite aiming to explain and expand the plans, have been limited to the members of certain clubs, to the exclusion of other members of the public and the press. And, while there is no suggestion of wrongdoing, the work that has started on The Camber gives the impression we are dealing with a fait accompli.

As mentioned, there is a broad base of support for the BAR plan in Portsmouth and the wider area. But perhaps more transparency would help get more people onside. It would be a shame to see a residents’ campaign derail what could be a massive boost for the city, particularly if this campaign is born of frustration, not full-on objection.