City leaders must ensure jobs boost is only the start

Rick Jackson has hit the gym in an effort to be healthy  (Shutterstock)

RICK JACKSON: Who’s the wise guy? Me!

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Alot has happened since the bitter blow in November when the loss of shipbuilding in Portsmouth was announced.

Prime minister David Cameron wrote to this paper to pledge the support of his government in helping the city find a new path.

A senior MP was given the unusual job of being the minister for Portsmouth.

Areas around the harbour have won a bid to give firms tax breaks and cash grants to set up new facilities, and the soon-to-be-vacant shipyard is already being marketed to interested parties.

But rightly so, dockyard workers and members of the public have remained sceptical of what effect these moves will have on the prosperity of Portsmouth and the wider area.

Time is critical, and people seek action rather than words and promises of help.

So we are pleased to report today the news that around 100 jobs will be sustained in the dockyard thanks to the imminent signing of a contract between the government and BAE Systems to extend maintenance work on the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyers.

It is one of the first tangible signs of help from the government that has brought money and jobs to the region.

And city leaders say there are more announcements like it on the way.

Those 100 jobs might not seem like much when compared to the 940 lost in shipbuilding, but that is 100 families – our neighbours – who can now feel some stability.

We would like to praise Philip Hammond for coming to Portsmouth – and speaking to The News – about this development.

The significance of the secretary of state for defence speaking out in Portsmouth’s favour cannot be underestimated.

People listen to his words, and the words of all those who are holding the city up as a place to build a maritime industry.

It sends a clear message to interested firms across the country, and indeed the world, that our area has many benefits should they want to set up a base here.

Hopefully those benefits will only continue to grow.