CITY leaders have urged people to give Michael Fallon a chance before judging the merit of a Minister for Portsmouth.
Mike Hancock, the MP for Portsmouth South, said: ‘The last time this was done was in Liverpool and if Mr Fallon has the same success as Michael Heseltine did, we will be okay.
‘I’ve written a letter to him welcoming him to the job and would hope he will meet up fairly quickly.
‘It would be sad if people wrote this move off as a gimmick, you can’t write him off.
‘If we’ve got the opportunity to have somebody in the corridors of power who is going to look at the problems in Portsmouth then we should welcome it.
‘He’s going to take a lot of stick if he fails.
‘It will be up to us, me as an MP, the council, the unions, and The News to see how this goes.’
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt’s praised Mr Fallon and said he was part of her ‘wish list’ which she talked about with the Prime Minister.
‘He will be someone who myself and community leaders can go to,’ she said.
‘He has a particular brief to get this situation sorted out.
‘He’s a very good and capable minister and individual, but also he is somebody who can be effective in rallying the support of colleagues in government.
‘It’s a positive step and something that I have asked for, and it was something I asked the Prime Minister in a meeting I had with him just before Christmas.’
The move was also welcomed by Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.
She said: ‘Closures at Portsmouth dockyard have had a huge impact and particularly in Gosport where a large number of its workers live.
‘I’m pleased the government has appointed a task force to plot a better future and I am confident that with ministerial support, great things will be achieved in the Portsmouth region.
‘I will be working hard over the coming months to ensure Gosport is involved in future developments and our local economy is able to benefit from Mr Fallon’s assistance.’