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Prime Minister pledges to safeguard defence jobs at Gosport, Portsmouth and at RAF Odiham

The Prime Minister is visiting Hampshire to confirm millions of pounds in defence investment securing more than 400 jobs.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a £420 million contract with Boeing - which makes the Chinook helicopter - for 'in-service support'.

The contract will last for five years and will safeguard 450 jobs at Fleetlands in Gosport, with other technical support provided at RAF Odiham near Basingstoke and sites across the UK.

David Cameron is expected to tell defence workers based in Gosport, Portsmouth and RAF Odiham that their jobs are secure thanks to a deal to maintain the Chinook helicopter fleet and to prepare the naval dockyard for the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

One of the RAF's Chinooks based at RAF Odiham flying above the Hampshire countryside Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Chinook is the UK’s only military heavy lift helicopter and can transport up to 54 troops or 10 tonnes of supplies.

The RAF's fleet of Chinooks will total 60 in number by early 2017 and includes the new Mark 6 helicopters.

David Cameron will also announce the preferred bidders to occupy the Portsmouth ship hall facilities.

At the end of last month, it was announced by the MOD that three companies had been shortlisted.

In November 2013, it was announced 940 ship building jobs were to be lost by BAE at their Portsmouth yard.

It was feared at the time that the move would mean the end of shipbuilding in the city bringing to an end a centuries old local industry that built the Tudor warship the Mary Rose.


  1. Andy Dickenson

Should 'tourism tax' be given a break?

A group of south-east MPs are backing a campaign to boost the finances of the region's hotels and tourist attractions by giving them a massive tax break.

They say the VAT rate for tourist businesses should be cut from 20% to 5% - closer to the rate in force in many other EU countries.

The campaign has the support of more than 100 MPs and it's on course to become an election issue:

Interviewees: Hotel owners Michael Clinch and Nick Head, Tracey Crouch MP.


Around 200 protesters in Oxford rallying against Le Pen speech

Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside Oxford University tonight. They're demonstrating against the involvement of France's far-right party in one of the university's prestigious debates.

Marine Le Pen, who's the leader of the 'Front National' party, is due to talk to the Oxford Union in a couple of hours. But she (will) arrived to angry scenes.

Credit: PA

Anti-facist campaigners say Le Pen should not be given a platform to speak on, but the Union president says its members believe in freedom of speech.

Traffic lights switch off 'risky for people with sight loss'

A 'shared space' scheme is underway in Reading town centre for a six month trial period

A charity that represents people who are blind and partially sighted has criticised Reading Borough Council for switching off the traffic lights at a busy crossroads in the town centre.

The effect on bus journey times of switching off the traffic lights will be assessed after the trial

Reading Borough Council said it hopes the six month trial at the junction of Oxford Road and Broad Street will make bus journeys faster and improve access for pedestrians, but the Berkshire County Blind Society says the measure is putting people with sight loss at risk.

The six month long trial began in January. If deemed successful, the changes at the junction of West Street, St Mary Butts, Oxford Street and Broad Street could become permanent - following a consultation.

The junction is at the crossroads of West Street, St Mary Butts, Oxford Street and Broad Street Credit: Bing

Comedian Al Murray kick-starts election campaign

Who said politics was boring? The comedian Al Murray arrived in Kent today, to kick start his campaign to get elected as South Thanet's MP.

It's already looking like an interesting fight there - Nigel Farage hopes to win the seat from the Tories too. And with policies like Getting the Channel Tunnel bricked up, and making Thanet the capital of the country, Al Murray's campaign was already likely to attract plenty of attention.

He got off the Javelin at Margate Station, and managed his first photo opportunity outside Dreamland. Trouble is - it was the wrong constituency.

Fred and Sangeeta linked to our Pollitical Correspondent, Phil Hornby.

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