Portsmouth ‘isn’t a priority for the government’ claims former council boss after Tour fiasco

Tour de France riders in Yorkshire in 2014
Tour de France riders in Yorkshire in 2014
Leone Hill

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THE government’s blunder over Portsmouth’s Tour de France aspirations proves that ministers have little concern for the city.

That’s according to the former leader of Portsmouth City Council.

For whatever reason, the ministry seems to not include Portsmouth on its list of priorities. If you look at the defence review, if you look at the stuff related to national security, it talks a lot about Plymouth more than it does about Portsmouth.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s fears come after the Department for Culture, Media & Sport admitted it was to blame for the disappearance of a report asking for £2m so the city can file a bid to host the Grand Depart in 2019.

Though the DCMS now insists it will look into the request for funding by the council after correcting an ‘administrative error’, Cllr Vernon-Jackson remains concerned.

He said: ‘I’m pleased that, thanks to a bit of prodding, the business case has been found from underneath someone’s desk. The government needs to get more serious than that.

‘Everybody has been expecting the DCMS to work on this and yet it hasn’t.

‘Portsmouth is again far down on its low of priorities.

‘For whatever reason, the ministry seems to not include Portsmouth on its list of priorities. If you look at the defence review, if you look at the stuff related to national security, it talks a lot about Plymouth more than it does about Portsmouth.

‘There are a whole series of things going on within the government right now pointing to Portsmouth not being taken seriously.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond filed the 32-page council-prepared case for funds to the DCMS in September.

She has yet to comment since Whitehall admitted it had not logged the submission of the report properly.

But Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt remains upbeat about Portsmouth’s chances of staging the Grand Depart – even if it’s in future years beyond 2019.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘We are right to be ambitious and try to bring world class events to the city. Even if we don’t secure the next Tour de France, the fact we have registered an interest counts for a lot. We can learn from what we have done.’