Action and not words is what is needed now

COMMENT: The return of good weather shouldn’t bring dread

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And so the moment we all knew was coming since BAE announced it was to move out of the dockyard has finally arrived.

The last block of the last ship to be built in Portsmouth left the shipyard hall yesterday.

The 6,000-ton block of HMS Prince of Wales cut an awe-inspiring sight as it left the yard, to be put on a barge that will take it to Rosyth.

But this time it was tinged with more than a little sadness.

Nostalgic cries about Portsmouth being a home to shipbuilding for hundreds of years may be accurate, but will unfortunately not cut it in the hardheaded world of economic realities.

This needs to be a time of action, not mere rhetoric.

Since it was announced last November that BAE intended to leave the city, there has been a lot of talking and several half-formed plans floated as a solution to the loss of shipbuilding, not to mention the 940 full-time and 170 agency jobs that BAE intended to shed.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt says there are eight businesses with ‘serious bids’ on the table to come to the shipyard.

This is to be welcomed, but if one of these businesses cannot be installed soon, the jobs base will drift away. We cannot expect those who have been made redundant, voluntarily or otherwise, to hang around the city on vague promises that someone will eventually take over.

These are skilled workers and their skills are in demand elsewhere – as witnessed by the Canadian shipbuilding firm Seaspan, which was looking for people from here willing to relocate to Vancouver.

The professionalism with which shipbuilders have completed their final task is testament to their work ethic.

Yes, there have been positives in recent months – the appointment of a minister for Portsmouth and Sir Ben Ainslie choosing the city as a base for his operations.

But while the shipyard lies vacant we cannot afford to be complacent. Only when those massive halls are again engaged in trade should we be satisfied.

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