NORTH EAST MISSES THE BOAT AS MORE AIRCRAFT CARRIER WORK GOES NORTH OF THE BORDER

March 2, 2009 4:24 PM

A senior local Liberal Democrat has criticised the decision to award more work on the Royal Navy's two aircraft carriers to Scottish shipyards.

Councillor Greg Stone, Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, said it had been expected that at least some work would go to yards on the Tyne.

But the latest MoD announcement means that neither the Tyne nor yards at Barrow will get any construction work.

Instead, the work increasingly appears to be concentrated on Scottish yards on the Clyde, with final assembly at Rosyth on the Forth.

It means the Scottish yards will get about 50% of the work from the £4 billion contract.

As a result, the Lib Dems are calling on the Government to financially support the Tyne industrial base through investment in the emerging renewable energy manufacturing complex at Walker Riverside.

Councillor Greg Stone said: "At this time of deepening economic crisis, it would make eminent sense to spread the benefit of a £4 billion contract to ensure that regions such as the North East retained important industrial capacity and jobs.

"As it is, it appears that all of the work on this project is going north of the Border and the North East is being hung out to dry.

"Questions must be asked why North East Labour MPs have failed to secure much needed investment in North East shipbuilding and why the Government is supporting a virtual Scottish monopoly.

"Of course, massive Government spending on big ticket items like this only serves to increase the Barnett formula payments to Scotland, leaving the North East short changed yet again.

"Sadly decisions like this will only hasten the demise of industry on the Tyne and will hinder the economic regeneration of the riverside.

"If the Government is not going to support warship construction on the Tyne, it should have the courage to say so.

"It should make amends by supporting the Lib Dem green road to economic recovery by investing in renewable energy manufacturing plans for the Tyne at Walker Riverside."