Tories hold on to power in Portsmouth - but warn they face difficult times ahead

The full Portsmouth City Council on the steps of the Guildhall
The full Portsmouth City Council on the steps of the Guildhall
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THE Tories have retained control of Portsmouth City Council – but the leader of the party admits they face a ‘difficult’ few years ahead keeping a tight grip on the authority’s finances.

It comes after the rival Lib Dem group, the second largest party on the council, decided not to challenge Cllr Donna Jones’ position of power at yesterday’s meeting of all members.

There would have been no advantage in challenging Cllr Jones’ leadership. It would have set up confrontation.

Cllr Hugh Mason, deputy leader of the Portsmouth Lib Dem group

But the Lib Dems warned they would mount an offensive against policies proposed that they did not agree with.

Speaking in the chamber Cllr Jones, said: ‘I’m not sure whether it’s a privilege or not.

‘We have got a difficult few years ahead of us.

‘We need to work as an administration and with all political parties for the benefit of the residents.

‘We try to do our best, and all 42 councillors need to make sure we provide good, high quality services to the people of Portsmouth.’

The Tories also made changes to its cabinet, with Cllr Jones taking on planning, regeneration and economic development on top of her duties.

Newly-elected councillor Jim Fleming has taken on traffic in place of Cllr Ken Ellcome, who becomes deputy Lord Mayor.

Education and children’s work has been split, with education remaining under Cllr Neill Young and children’s duties taken on by new councillor Ryan Brent.

Cllr Hugh Mason, deputy Lib Dem leader, said: ‘There would have been no advantage in challenging Cllr Jones’ leadership.

‘It would have set up confrontation.

‘There will be many issues where there will have to be confrontation and we will have to object to the things he Tories have done.’

There was controversy as city solicitor Michael Lawther said the Lib Dems were unable to debate Cllr Jones’ re-appointment 
as they had not put 
forward anyone different to be leader.