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Regional daily steps up campaign to safeguard jobs

A regional daily has stepped up its campaign to safeguard hundreds of jobs with a hard-hitting front page.

The News, Portsmouth ran a front page story calling on the government to award a multi-million pound shipbuilding contract locally.

The move comes in the wake of a string of reports by the paper demanding action to mitigate job losses caused by the imminent closure of the city’s BAE Systems shipyard.

Last week it again stepped in after Chancellor George Osborne announced £200m of funding for a scientific survey ship to put Britain at the forefront of research in the Polar oceans.

Portsmouth News Defence correspondent Sam Bannister, is playing a key role in the newspaper’s campaign.

He said: “The shipyard story has not been far from our front pages since the announcement in November.

“Earlier, we got city leaders together to write an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron and he wrote and pledged to back shipbuilding in the city.

“The survey ship story is the latest opportunity to continue to put pressure on.

“Our readers are right behind us and we have tremendous support right across the city.”

According to the most recent numbers, only 392 of the 940 employees whose jobs will go when the shipyard shuts later this year have been supported for retraining or moved into different roles within the defence giant.

City leaders yesterday urged the government to do all it can to see the ship built in in the city.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock told business secretary Vince Cable in a letter: “Government and commercial decisions dealt a hard blow to the city and this new ship provides the perfect chance to rectify this situation.”

Penny Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, is trying to secure a meeting with Mr Osborne to discuss the building idea and the Prospect union is backing the calls for the new polar research ship to be built in Portsmouth.

The ship will have on board laboratories, and will carry cutting-edge technology including robotic submarines to gather data on marine biology and ocean conditions.

It will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey and will be able to carry out longer voyages than the current vessels.

The Prime Minister’s letter can be read here.