Council complaints panel ordered to address in public concerns over Portsmouth America’s Cup World Series

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A COMPLAINTS panel is being ordered to meet in public and discuss concerns over arrangements for this summer’s America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth.

It follows criticism that decisions over the use of land around Southsea Common for the sailing spectacle, and what visitors will be offered, are being made in private.

In what way is this commercially sensitive? We need to at least take a public report to a meeting so that there can be a discussion.

Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Southsea resident Jeremy Brown is concerned that the Ramparts – an area where people go for free to watch activities in the Solent – is being billed as a ticketed area sectioned off from those who won’t go to the cup regatta and no-one has had a say over it. Seafront traders say they have still to be consulted.

Councillors are calling for the city council’s complaints committee to get together and air issues in public before coming up with a plan.

But Cllr Steve Hastings, the council’s complaints panel chairman, has warned the meeting won’t be held until after January due to people being away.

In a letter to members of the panel about the need for a public meeting, Lib Dem councillor Darren Sanders said: ‘This, more than any other event, puts Portsmouth on the global map. Therefore, this is different to Victorious and other excellent events we have here. In addition, given the previous event when the seafront was closed without telling anyone, people could not take their own picnics, established traders were shut and people were given free tickets to a concert meant to cost £40, it needs the utmost confidence of the people of Portsmouth to make it work in 2016 and beyond.’

Portsmouth Tory culture boss Linda Symes has already said there is a need for private talks with event organisers Team Origin because it concerns ‘business sensitive’ information and ‘a contract’ regarding the America’s Cup.

Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘In what way is this commercially sensitive? We need at least to take a public report to a meeting so that there can be a discussion.

‘But we seem to see more and more of this confidentiality and decisions being taken about residents without any consultation.

Cllr Hastings said he will be reviewing the request for a meeting when he returns to the council’s offices next week.