Minister for Portsmouth will make first city visit since taking on new job

Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon
Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council

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MINISTER for Portsmouth Michael Fallon is to visit the city next week for the first time since taking on the role, The News can reveal.

Mr Fallon will be visiting Portsmouth on Tuesday after taking on the job of co-ordinating the government’s efforts to support the city in the wake of the loss of shipbuilding.

He will be having meetings with political and business leaders at Portsmouth City Council’s offices.

Mr Fallon said: ‘I wanted to come to Portsmouth as soon as possible.

‘Tuesday is an important opportunity for me to listen to local political and business leaders, and discuss how I can add most value to the collective task of getting new jobs and growth in this great city.’

As reported, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Mr Fallon to the role last week in response to the shipyard closure.

Mr Cameron also wrote a letter to the city pledging the government will do all it can to protect jobs.

It is the first time a minister has been given a specific responsibility for a city since Michael Heseltine was dubbed the minister for Merseyside in 1981.

Yesterday defence minister Philip Dunne visited the city to meet BAE and unions to talk about the future of workers affected by the closure.

He said: ‘This was a useful opportunity to discuss Ministry of Defence priorities in helping bring forward alternative options for use of the shipbuilding facilities within the naval base. We had a positive meeting with trade union representatives in Portsmouth to discuss their concerns, I was impressed by the constructive attitude taken to work together across government to find continuing employment for the skilled workforce in the area.’

Mr Dunne visited Gosport with the town’s MP, Caroline Dinenage.

She said: ‘I am pleased the minister has shown the government’s support for our area by meeting with representatives from the oil fuel depot and Vector Aerospace.

‘If we are to mitigate the closures at Portsmouth shipyard, we must ensure associated industries are well prepared for their future roles.

‘What’s happened in Portsmouth emphasises the importance of protecting companies such as Vector.’

Union representatives at the meeting were unavailable for comment.

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