TRUST in us – we will strive to protect the navy and boost education despite the government’s plans to continue slashing public funds.
That is the message from Portsmouth’s newly-elected Tory MPs in the wake of their victory.
Flick Drummond, who toppled the Lib Dems to become the new MP for Portsmouth South, and Penny Mordaunt, who held on to the city’s north constituency, have vowed to make the issues their key priorities.
It comes after fears were raised about the poor standard of Portsmouth’s education system and the desperate shortage of school places in the years ahead.
And campaigners have raised fears about the potential for more cuts to the armed forces and no firm commitment having been made to replace ageing frigates.
Speaking to The News, Mrs Drummond said: ‘Education for the local authority has been very poor for the past 10 years.
‘As a result a lot of schools have turned into academies.
‘Those have been doing much better and what I want to do is build on that and speak to headteachers to see what they want.
‘I want to make Portsmouth an attractive place to work.
‘We have a shortfall of teachers, like we do GPs, and they need to be drawn into the city. Of course we should also be training teachers in the city.
‘We have to make sure we give children the best start in life and if being an academy helps then we will look at that.’
She added: ‘I come from an army background so defence is very high on my agenda.
‘I will lobby whoever is the defence secretary, even if I am speaking alone, to stand up for defence in the city.’
Colleague Ms Mordaunt insists £12bn worth of further cuts to the welfare budget over the next two years would not affect adult social care in Portsmouth.
She said it should be possible to increase care for the elderly through improved money management and co-ordination of workers.
‘What we need to do, by using what money we have got is to actually increase provision,’ she said.
‘We’ve got to join up different bits of the system including working better with the voluntary sector to deliver what we need.’
Ms Mordaunt spoke about establishing new day centres and an ‘ageing centre’ for elderly patients, including those with dementia, in the north of the city.
On education and defence plans for the city, she said: ‘We have very good synergy with Portsdown Technology Park and the shiphall for the navy.
‘We have to make sure we capitalise on that and grow our orders for shipbuilding and engage with companies to bring work here in the future.
‘I’m pushing the idea for local businesses to share costs and expertise, and pushing this with Caroline Dinenage (Gosport), Suella Fernandes (Fareham) and Flick.
‘For education we need to make sure we’re raising aspirations of our young people from a much earlier age.
‘The first 18 months are crucial.
‘I want to secure funds of £30,000 in the city for parent and infant partnership work to build on the work Sure Start does.
‘I want to push for birth registrations to take place in children’s centres to help identify families that need early support – we want to be trailblazers on that.
‘We need to do more with the creative industries in further education.
‘I have the Aspiration Ambassadors programme which has been running for a year and we invite those who are successful to support and mentor new students – this is something that can be expanded.