Political tensions boil over during Victoria Park debate

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A FRESH political spat has broken out over the future of Victoria Park in Portsmouth.

Lib Dem activist Margaret Foster presented a petition calling for the council to not scrap a wildlife aviary at the beauty spot. But Tories labelled the campaign ‘politically motivated’ and a ‘data harvesting exercise’ as there’s no intention of getting rid of any animals.

The Lib Dems pointed to a masterplan which says the aviary could go and be replaced with a bandstand.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem leader, said: ‘The park should be for the people of the city and not used for commercial interests.’

Lib Dem councillor Lee Hunt said Tories were letting their leader, Cllr Donna Jones, ‘run away with the issue’.

He said: ‘I would urge sensible members of the Conservative group to go to their leader, and say, “stop doing this, we are losing votes over this particular issue.”

But Cllr Jones said: ‘This city council and its executive has no plans or proposals, none whatsoever, and never has had any plans to remove birds or animals from Victoria Park.’

But she said the aviary was ‘poor’ and ‘underutilised’ – and refused to get rid of the idea in the masterplan to relocate it.