Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 27 February 2014


Exeter may have the posh bits, including John Lewis and IKEA, but Plymouth is the indisputable economic engine room for the whole sub-region (Devon and Cornwall) and of that engine room, Devonport Dockyard remains the undoubted dynamo. It did not look this way some years ago when the existence of the yard itself was under threat. However, it has now received a new lease of life and is once again a very busy and successful place. This is in no small measure due to the commercial expertise and clout that Babcock has added since it acquired the yard some years ago.

Every year MPs with a Babcock connection are entertained at a very pleasant dinner just outside the Houses of Parliament at which the group performance for the year is revealed and discussed. Two weeks ago this took place. As well as winning good defence contracts in Canada and Australia in the past 12 months, the highly successful UK based company now maintains all of the physical fabric of the school buildings throughout Devon. They are also bidding for massive UK wide contracts in the nuclear industry.

There was a time when the number of employees in the dockyard fell below 4,000. This is now up to 5016 full time well paid jobs. I cannot think of another private sector business in Plymouth that even employs 1,000 people, so you can see that the dockyard is very much still our number one employer. To this impressive number must be added several thousands of jobs of local suppliers and contractors to the yard which also boost our economy.

Investment in the next generation is reflected in the fact that there are now over 200 apprentices working in the yard and more are added to their number every year. All of this is encouraging and perhaps partly explains why unemployment locally is well below national average and falling.

I have in the past criticised Babcock for not engaging more fully in the local community as some of the previous owners of the dockyard have done. It does not seem to come easy to their current crop of hard-nosed bosses to do some of the fancy community-based niceties. I have decided not to criticise them for this in the future. Their primary task is to make a go of the yard and to employ local people, which they are doing in droves.

Our entire region shares in the success they have achieved. 

posted by Gary @ 09:10