PORTSMOUTH continues to prosper and grow despite huge reductions in funding.
Local government secretary Greg Clark believes the city is ‘on the move’ and its ‘status and profile’ is better now than it has been for a long time.
There is a lot of ambition. Having a five-star hotel in the city would be key, and it’s long overdue.Local government secretary Greg Clark
But critics say Mr Clark and his department – in an attempt to push the extension of the Right-to-Buy scheme and reduce even further the amount of money for councils to spend on services – are leaving city families worse off.
When asked by The News whether Portsmouth’s local authority could continue to perform in light of continued austerity measures, Mr Clark said: ‘The city has been making good progress.
‘What’s excellent for this city is that by the end of this parliament, we are working to enable it to retain 100 per cent of business rates and that money can be kept and used locally.
‘There is a lot of ambition. Having a five-star hotel in the city would be key and it’s long overdue.’
He added: ‘Things are on the move in Portsmouth.
‘The last time there was a Conservative majority was 1991, and what we have seen recently is Conservative leadership and Donna’s vision taking things to the next level.
‘So the profile and status of the city is much higher than it has been for many years.
‘What we’re trying to do with the City Deal and devolution is enable Portsmouth to be part of a “southern powerhouse”.’
Mr Clark signed off the terms of a £50m City Deal in 2013 to unlock land in Tipner for redevelopment in years to come. The deal was awarded under the previous Lib Dem council administration.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘Over the past 10 to 15 years, the city has prospered and the economy of the city has grown. But we have had big economic shocks – like the loss of shipbuilding and 1,000 engineering jobs. My concern is the things Mr Clark is doing will mean Portsmouth families who can’t afford to buy council homes will not be able to find anywhere decent to live.’