Campaigners to stage rally against £9m Portsmouth cuts plan

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CAMPAIGNERS are preparing to mount a charge against a fresh round of heavy council cuts – which they fear will ‘tear the heart out of services’.

A rally is to be staged in Guildhall Square tomorrow ahead of a crucial debate to decide whether £9m should be slashed from Portsmouth City Council’s budget.

What is certain is that if we do nothing the cuts will go ahead, people will suffer and staff will become even more demoralised and dissatisfied with their jobs.

GMB regional organiser Frank Minal

The controversial plans – which would see money pulled from sexual health services, alcohol and drug misuse work, trade unions, community centres as well as cultural bodies – have already been agreed in principal by the city’s ruling Tory cabinet.

But it will be down to the full council to decide whether the savings should be agreed and come into force from the start of the next financial year.

GMB regional organiser and Labour activist, Frank Minal, said: ‘We are at a tipping point.

‘There is nothing left to cut without tearing the heart out of council services.

‘None of us know if protesting on will change things.

‘What is certain is that if we do nothing the cuts will go ahead, people will suffer and staff will become even more demoralised and dissatisfied with their jobs.

‘By showing GMB don’t agree with these cuts, it will put pressure on the council and show the people who use council services where GMB stand.

‘Some of this year’s proposed budget cuts will be impossible to implement but trying to do so will cause deep distress to staff and the people who rely on these services.

‘Huge amounts of resources will be wasted.

‘The proposed budget savings this year are truly appalling for the population of the city, for council employees and for anyone working in the NHS and other services. Council tax could rise by 3.99 per cent – a 73p a week increase for those in a band B property – which will be decided separately in February.’

The Lib Dem and Labour council groups are expected to unveil at the meeting alternative ways of saving and spending taxpayers’ money next year.

Speaking at the cabinet debate where the plans were endorsed in principal, Tory council leader Donna Jones said the savings ‘were necessary’ and part of the council’s plan to become ‘more entrepreneurial’ ‘and utilise the tools that we have available to us.’

‘Out of the £9m of savings only £900,000 are actual cuts to front-line services,’ she added. Around a third of the savings proposed are being made through income-making schemes.