Portsmouth formalises Sister City status with Halifax and the Falklands in bid to boost trade
TOP councillors have backed a plan for Portsmouth to formalise Sister City links with the Canadian city of Halifax and the Falkland Islands in a move that civic chiefs hope could boost trade and prosperity.
The ambition has been on the cards since it was first mooted in February 2020 and was finally formalised by Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet committee.
The ‘Sister City’ status is a more powerful connection than just the ‘ceremonial’ twinning of cities, and leaders hope it will help all three communities to thrive.
Speaking during the meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall, council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the new status would forge closer political and educational tie and could help boost jobs.
‘This is a very sensible thing to do,’ Councillor Vernon-Jackson said. ‘This is about building relationships and particularly to encourage trade between ourselves and others.
‘The things that I have seen which have been very successful over the last few years have been trade missions to China and Bangladesh, to foster trade between those countries and ourselves and I think this is the way in which we should be going to build those links.’
Portsmouth’s relationship with the Falklands began when the islands were invaded in 1982 and now sees the Falklands flag fly all year round in the city, showing the ‘strong’ links between the two.
Meanwhile in the fast-growing Halifax – the largest naval base in Canada based on the east coast – Portsmouth already has prosperous connections.
Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, is the home of the Royal Canadian Navy which has had links with Portsmouth's naval base dating back to 1759.
More recently, the city is the developing the new Type 26 frigate for the Royal Canadian Navy – a vessel being used by the Royal Navy and one that was developed in Portsmouth.
The report to members of the cabinet meeting said: ‘The recent sale of the Type 26 frigate to the Royal Canadian Navy and the decision by the Canadian government to build the ships in Halifax is a significant trade and inward investment opportunity.
‘The contract to build 15 ships is worth £20bn with many companies in Portsmouth either already involved or seeking to obtain supply chain contracts. In addition there is great potential for a future trade, investment and educational mission to include not just Halifax but also Toronto.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘They will be built in Halifax but lots of the equipment that go into the ships will come from local firms here. If we can establish better ties there between both the university and local companies that’s great.’
The trade boost would not be ‘at the expense of the taxpayer’, Cllr Vernon-Jackson insisted.
‘We’re not doing this to cause expense and to send councillors round the world at the council’s expense,’ the Lib Dem leader said.
‘We can now do stuff by Zoom. We have all learned to work differently and some of the things that we have learned to do we ought to keep doing, even when we are allowed to go back to running things in a way we’re more used to.
‘I’m not expecting to send a large consul of councillors off to the Falkland Islands even on one-way tickets or returns.
‘But I think we need to be conscious that we do this to try and make sure we’re benefiting the local community and the local firms.’