Minister announces research project to attract investment

PORTFOLIO Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon on his previous visit to the city. Picture: Paul Jacobs (14241-9)
PORTFOLIO Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon on his previous visit to the city. Picture: Paul Jacobs (14241-9)
Fareham Community Hospital in Salisbury Green

Picture: Paul Jacobs

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MINISTER for Portsmouth Michael Fallon is due to return to the city today to announce a new research project which he hopes will bring investment to the area.

The senior Tory MP, appointed to the unusual role of looking after the city in the wake of the shipbuilding crisis, is on a mission to mitigate job losses in the area.

Ministers, industry and city leaders have now commissioned a research project to examine the strengths of the area for maritime and marine engineering industry.

The report, which will be ready in the spring, will then be used to promote the industry to investors, at home and overseas.

Mr Fallon said: ‘The Portsmouth and Solent area has enormous expertise in marine and maritime engineering.

‘Despite the recent BAE shipbuilding announcements, thousands of people are still employed locally by companies like BAE, Autonomous Surface Vehicles, and Griffon Hoverwork.

‘We must use this strength to capitalise on new opportunities for growth.

‘This root and branch review will identify opportunities that could generate substantial investment in the local economy and provide a strong foundation for development in the years ahead.

‘We are committed to building confidence in the area as a world-class centre of excellence in which businesses will invest and create jobs.’

The research will be overseen by the Department for Business, UK Trade and Investment, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, and the British Marine Federation.

It is to be carried out by the University of Southampton.

Mr Fallon will pay another visit today to meet representatives at BAE Systems.

He will also take a tour of the historic dockyard, meet people from the University of Portsmouth, and visit a business which has benefited from the News-backed Bridging the Gap fund.

Mr Fallon was appointed the minister for Portsmouth in response to the announcement last November that BAE Systems would shut down its shipbuilding operations in the city.

His job is to co-ordinate the government’s efforts to support the future of maritime industry in the area.

Prime minister David Cameron also wrote to The News pledging support to jobs and shipbuilding in the city.