Investment programme given green light by Portsmouth City Council

Cllr Donna Jones
Cllr Donna Jones
Jack Martin is calling for the return of this much-loved Tom Parker milk float after it was stolen during the night

Original Tom Parker Dairies milk float is stolen

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PLANS to spend millions of pounds on improvements in Portsmouth have been given the green light.

The city council will splash out £23m from its capital budget improving schools and the ferry port and use £3.5m of the pot to redevelop an industrial estate in Hilsea so it can bring in some rental income and help create jobs.

The city centre will benefit from a £500,000 facelift and the seafront and district shopping centres will have £100,000 spent on them.

But campaigners say it comes at a time when vulnerable residents have been hit hard by revenue cuts to the tune of £13.1m.

Steve Bonner, vice-chairman of the Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, said: ‘My question is, who are these employers and what are the jobs?

‘Are they perhaps hi-tech, engineering or electronic businesses that will provide apprenticeships and training to improve the skill sets of the city, or are they unskilled jobs at subsistence wages which will vanish when grants and susidised rates come to an end?’

Mr Bonner also questioned why £1.485m is being used to buy ‘electronic document and business machinery’ to improve the work of council officers when vulnerable people are being hit.

But council leader Cllr Donna Jones said buying more electronic equipment would reduce staff costs – and she hopes voluntary groups will be inspired to take up more services at a conference in April.

The Lib Dems wanted more money spent on shopping centres and the seafront.

They also wanted the council to scrap spending £100,000 on ‘verge hardening’ in Paulsgrove to create more parking spaces.

But their proposals were rejected. The rate of council tax has been frozen for a second year running.

It means a Band B property – the most common in Portsmouth – will be £911.19 or £1,081.30 when taking into account the levies for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and the police.

Labour called for a 1.95 per cent increase in council tax to help fund services.

Cllr Colin Galloway, Ukip leader, said he helped draw up the Tory budget but admitted it was ‘terrible’ given the lack of finances available to help all sections of the community.