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City needs help after end of shipbuilding
12:18pm Thursday 7th November 2013 in Hampshire Business
Local authority leaders in the South have called on the Government to provide the Portsmouth area with ''proper'' support following BAE Systems' decision to halt shipbuilding in the city.
A total of 940 jobs are set to be lost in the Hampshire city as the firm implements the cuts from the second half of next year.
Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said he was not satisfied with the Government's pledge of support.
He said: ''The £100 million announced by the Secretary of State for Defence (Philip Hammond) does not look as if it includes any new money.
''It's all money that has been announced before to support the carriers coming to Portsmouth. Therefore, we want proper support in terms of lessening the impact of this decision.
''Portsmouth remains the home of the Royal Navy, with more than 10,000 jobs remaining in the dockyard.''
David Williams, chief executive of the council, said: ''This decision is a major blow to Portsmouth and the surrounding area. The affected people will need help immediately.
''We urge Government to provide substantial funding to support affected workers as soon as possible.
''Over the last year we have been working on a joint Portsmouth-Southampton City Deal with Government, which would give the area more power over its economic future. But this week's issue goes beyond any City Deal.
''We need immediate support from Government to help affected workers. We want to make sure it is used to keep vital skills in the area, help skilled people transfer to other jobs or enable workers to retrain for the engineering jobs of the future.
''But it's important to point out that Portsmouth and the wider Solent area are not facing decline. There is huge investment coming into the area - £1 billion into Portsmouth alone - and major regeneration taking place. The dockyard will remain a massive employer with a crucial role in servicing and supporting naval ships.''
Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council, said: ''This decision is also important for the wider area, as the dockyard supports thousands of jobs across the Solent.
''We will be doing everything in our power to make sure there is proper support for the workers affected, building on our recent experience with Ford in Southampton.''
Doug Morrison, chairman of the Solent Local Economic Partnership (LEP), said: ''It is a sad day for a heartland industry in the Solent and for all the people here who have spent their working lives in it.
''It is a setback for our ambitions to grow and develop the region's advanced manufacturing sector and it is important that we act quickly to minimise the impact on the Solent economy.
''We are working with partners to establish a taskforce with immediate effect. The LEP will quickly move to bring forward a range of support programmes and we are committed to working with all those individuals and businesses affected.''
An announcement on the Portsmouth-Southampton bid for a City Deal, made by the two city councils and the LEP, is expected soon.
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster, Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth, said: ''This is serious and shocking news for Portsmouth and the surrounding area, most of all for those whose jobs are directly now at risk and their families, but also for the whole community and local economy.
''The decision of BAE and the Government will not be understood by most of us and does no justice to the commitment of this city and area to our island and naval safety for generations.''
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