£8 million sweetener offered

Olympic Gold Medallist sailor Ben Ainslie has been offered £8 million to set up a racing hub in Portsmouth.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has put in a multi-million pound bid to pay for facilities and infrastructure if Sir Ben chooses to set up a base at the Camber Dock in Old Portsmouth.

He said: ‘What I have done now is talked to the Department for Business for a bid of £8m to support the team.

‘We have put the bid in as a council and it’s to cover the costs of putting in the infrastructure and facilities needed.

‘We talked to the department about getting it in as an exceptional Regional Growth Fund bid.’

It’s hoped if the £8m bid is successful it will convince the Ainslie team to pick Portsmouth.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist could help create up to 100 jobs if he went ahead with the plan.

And Cllr Vernon-Jackson said BAE Systems told him it would support Sir Ben’s team.

He added: ‘BAE Systems have said it will support the team – but only if they are in Portsmouth – by letting them use its facilities if needed and things like that.’

Sir Ben’s racing team have not confirmed if Portsmouth has been chosen but workers have been seen surveying the Camber.