Portsmouth MP reveals bold new plan to get shipbuilding back to city

'‹WE CAN do better '“ that's the message from MP Penny Mordaunt after a deal to move Magma Structures into Portsmouth's shiphall collapsed.

Saturday, 12th March 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 12th March 2016, 7:31 am
A fitter cutting steel inside the C ring of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier in Portsmouth in 2011

The Portsmouth North MP has vowed to make sure the giant dockyard facility becomes a hub of activity.

She has told The News she is committed to bringing commercial businesses into the facility – left vacant after BAE Systems pulled the plug on shipbuilding in 2014.

The armed forces minister hopes to create a ‘small and medium-sized business hub’.

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But she added she remained determined to get ‘a large commercial shipbuilding company’ into the dockyard site.

‘I’m not giving up. We all want to make this work,’ said Ms Mordaunt.

‘What we have got is good but we want to do better.

‘So let’s put our heads together and get this done.’

The Tory MP said it would be a challenge but stressed there were a number of avenues still open to explore.

To do this, Ms Mordaunt will bring together a team of key government figures – including the minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois, minister for defence personnel and veterans Mark Lancaster, and local MPs, who will meet with maritime experts to thrash out a plan of action.

The first meeting of this group, some of whom contributed to the 2013/14 maritime task force for the shiphall, is expected to take place in the next couple of weeks.

‘Let’s not give up and let’s see what more we can do,’ added Ms Mordaunt.

‘There are plenty of opportunities out there now.

‘The economy has picked up, which is in our favour.

‘Magma was extremely disappointed it couldn’t move into shiphall as because that would have been a massive step. Now we have to pursue all options and not just focus on one sector.’

The shiphall is currently used as a centre of engineering excellence by BAE Systems. The site is now the focal point of the Royal Navy’s repair and maintenance operations to fix its fleet of minehunters.