EASTLEIGH'S MP has told Southampton to "stick to the maritime" as the neighbouring constituencies battle over a major railway HQ.

As previously reported, Paul Holmes and city council leader Daniel Fitzhenry have both launched bids to bring in the Great British Railways facility.

A competition to decide where to base the new public body to manage the country's infrastructure is to open soon.

But Mr Holmes believes Eastleigh is the clear winner of the two due to its heritage.

Speaking in Parliament, he said: "I think this is a fabulous opportunity for Eastleigh, because I don't know whether the deputy chief whip knows or remembers my major speech when I said that Eastleigh was created on the building of the London and South Western Railway from around 1838, and it truly is a railway town with people who stem from ancestry who built this massive infrastructure project during the Victorian era.

MP Paul Holmes speaking on the matter in Parliament

MP Paul Holmes speaking on the matter in Parliament

"It built locomotives and trains and carriages but it also built gliders for the D-Day landings in WWII.

"And I think that our town centre – which has an airport just up the road, a deeply willing and committed population and railway work sites that already, and still provide the exact same services that we saw them provide in the 1830s – I think that this will be a fabulous site for the new headquarters of Great British Railway.

"I have heard this morning that Southampton just next door to me has announced a rival bid. I'd just like to gently say to them they should stick to the maritime and not the railways, railways belong to Eastleigh, and I know this is going to be a friendly competition with the leader of their council.

"But I just say to them, hands off, it's Eastleigh's turn."

Mr Holmes added that his town is much like a northern railway working-class town, but on the south coast.

A commitment from government that the national headquarters will be based outside of London, ensuring skilled jobs, investment and economic benefits are focused beyond the capital, has been made.

The Echo has contacted Cllr Fitzhenry for a response.