Word of £8m bid’s success is a welcome boost to city

Ewan McGregor  as Renton in Trainspotting - the gender neutral toilets Zella has visited are almost as grubby

ZELLA COMPTON: Men – just aim it in the right direction and we’ll all be happy!

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There’s a sense of momentum building around the Ben Ainslie Racing team project to set up an America’s Cup base on The Camber.

In the last fortnight we have seen a packed public meeting about the plans which saw the majority of attendees support the scheme, followed a couple of days later by the city council’s development committee which passed it unanimously.

Now we report today that the £8m bid submitted to the government right at the start of the process is likely to be successful. It was always due to be revealed this week whether the cash would be allocated and the early signs from Whitehall are encouraging.

Obviously this is only part one of the money story, as millions have to be raised from other investors. But MP Penny Mordaunt says she has been wining and dining potential investors, and that they are showing a lot of interest. The signs remain good.

The case for the government money is indisputable. Portsmouth is the team’s number one choice, having easy access to open water. With planning permission secured, a major potential hurdle has been passed.

And on the other side of the coin, the £8m would be repaid many times over in job creation and economic knock-on effects. We noted on Saturday the number of MPs who have visited Portsmouth from London, seemingly keen promote – and be associated with – as many boosts for the city as possible in the wake of November’s annoucement over the end of shipbuilding.

If this sense of trying to make amends for BAE’s impending withdrawal includes a sympathy card with an £8m cheque in it, then so much the better.

It’s been made clear from day one that time is of the essence in getting this project onto the water. While the preliminary work on The Camber annoyed several local residents, it was a sign that there is a motivation to get going.

Ben Ainslie Racing will not prove Portsmouth’s economic salvation, but is a damn good start. We await this week’s announcement with optimism.

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