Put your money where your mouth is, Mr Fallon

Zella had a fantastic day at Titchfield Haven and wonders what other local gems she's overlooked      Picture: Gary Taw

ZELLA COMPTON: Looking afresh at our beautiful spot in the world

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When Michael Fallon was appointed as the minister for Portsmouth, there were plenty of voices saying that it was a hollow gesture from Westminster to placate a city angry at a perceived betrayal over the looming loss of 1,000 jobs.

Many were rightly sceptical about an MP from Kent with no previous ties to the region being given the brief to oversee a city that already has two MPs to serve its people.

But we called for people to at least give him a chance and see what he could do to help the region.

However, it appears that Mr Fallon has not followed through on his word to ask BAE Systems to delay its shipbuilding redundancy scheme.

Obviously this also comes against the backdrop of a £70m deal which will safeguard 100 jobs in the dockyards for at least the next two-and-a-half years, which is not to be sniffed at.

And not a million miles from there, the plans for Ben Ainslie Racing’s (BAR) headquarters is waiting on £8m of government funding – money that Mr Fallon will need to sign off.

If BAR builds its new base at the Camber, it is estimated that it will bring 90 new jobs, plus a further 550 indirectly-created jobs.

The city council’s planning committee has approved the plans and the ball is now firmly in Mr Fallon’s court.

It is time for Mr Fallon to put his money where his mouth is and give the people of Portsmouth something to cheer about.

Of course there is politicking taking place here. As a Labour councillor here in Portsmouth, as well as a union representative for Prospect, John Ferrett clearly has points to score in challenging a Conservative minister. With the Scottish independence vote looming, the issue is one that is becoming increasingly pressing.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said in response that people are working ‘24/7’ on finding alternative work for the yard and that suggesting nothing is being done is ‘unhelpful.’

But time is running out and throwing blame around is not going to help anyone.