Government must follow through on its pledges

COMMENT: A move in the right direction but still not a win for all

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On the front page of The News earlier this year, prime minister David Cameron made a very specific pledge.

‘We want to retain shipbuilding in the city, for which there is still significant, untapped potential,’ he said. And he isn’t wrong.

We can report today the proposed Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group has found new allies in the form of several established marine businesses.

They are clubbing together to put forward a proposal which could keep the shipyard open and retain hundreds of jobs.

But by their calculations, the government would need to invest around £100m to make the proposal a reality.

We know times are tough and spending has to be reined in wherever possible.

But £100m is surely small beer when compared to the costs of closing shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

Finding new jobs for the 940 redundant workers and dealing with the loss to the local economy will come with a financial blow.

That £100m seems like a small investment in order to retain a shipyard on the south coast in the event of a vote for Scottish independence or a delay to shipbuilding orders north of the border.

So we call on the government, and particularly the prime minister, to take notice of the group and its plans.

In a short time they have pulled together a hefty order book and identified a number of vessels which could be built in the city.

But these ships could quite easily be built somewhere else if we do not act quickly.

Meanwhile, the effects of the shipyard closure continue to be felt far and wide.

Elsewhere in The News today, you will have read the story of Simon Bennett, whose hopes of becoming a shipbuilder in the city were dashed when BAE announced its closure.

But his despair was short-lived, as he has now taken it upon himself to start a coffee shop in the heart of Southsea.

Simon, and the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group, are perfect examples that where there is a will, there is usually a way.