Deputy PM asks city to compete for new powers

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

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PORTSMOUTH is one of 20 cities chosen to compete for more powers to help create jobs and improve the local economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the city’s inclusion in the second wave of his City Deals scheme this morning.

Speaking to The News ahead of the announcement Mr Clegg said it was a great opportunity for Portsmouth to come up with innovative ideas to help its economy.

He said: ‘This is a competition. Portsmouth will need to compete with the other 20 cities before we decide which ones will get a City Deal.

‘By doing that we’ll get the most radically innovative ideas.

‘This is a push to try and do more to stimulate growth and the creation of jobs.’

Portsmouth will be combining its resources with Southampton in order to make a bid – a recommendation made by the two cities and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams and Solent LEP chairman Doug Morriston co-wrote a letter to the government asking to be part of the City Deal scheme.

All three were invited to hear Mr Clegg’s speech today.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Portsmouth can see great potential benefits for our residents and businesses in a City Deal.

‘We have a very ambitious regeneration programme and are keen to work with the Solent LEP, Southampton City Council and surrounding districts to secure a better package.’

Under the scheme, more power will be given to the organisations, and they’ll be able to make their own money so will be less reliant on government handouts from sources such as the Regional Growth Fund.

For example, in the first wave of City Deals, Manchester agreed a plan to invest in its transport infrastructure and now keeps a share of taxes raised locally, which is then spent in the city.

Around 3,800 jobs were created, with the city being given the powers to recruit and train people to fill them.

The bids have to be submitted by January 15 and the winners will be announced next autumn.