Concerns over Portsmouth City Council’s commitment to ban legal highs after meeting is put off

A collection of legal highs
A collection of legal highs
Holiday Inn Express, Farlington

Farlington’s Holiday Inn Express facing action after serving alcohol to 16-year-olds

  • Portsmouth City Council offers no explanation over why legal highs meeting has been put off
  • Comes despite all members agreeing before general election they wanted ban imposed as quickly as possible
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QUESTIONS have been raised over Portsmouth City Council’s commitment to impose a ban on the use of legal highs in public.

The authority was due to have a meeting on October 2 to thrash out a plan to enforce the move as concerns grow over the rise in head shops selling the lethal substances to young people.

Politicians who campaign on things like this, should deliver them.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader

But the meeting, due to be chaired by Tory environment and community safety boss Rob New, has been pushed back to the middle of November and no explanation has been given as to why.

Cllr New has also declined to comment on the council’s plans while they are under wraps.

The News has launched its Legal Highs: Only Lows campaign which seeks to see the public ban put in place and policed – and campaigners agree the council must act now and not delay.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘Politicians who campaign on things like this, should deliver them.

‘People need to hear they the council is not prepared to have this meeting – this is not the first time this has happened.

‘I have read about the campaign in The News, and yet the head shops are still open and still trading. That’s worrying.’

But Ukip environment and community safety spokeswoman Julie Swan said it was a ‘waste of time’ introducing a public ban on legal highs use while the government has yet to roll out legislation completely banning the supply, sale and distribution of legal highs.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill is due for its second reading in the House of Commons.

It comes despite all councillors agreeing in the council chamber before the general election in May this year that the public ban – an idea brought forward by the Tories – must happen and a report would be produced with more detail. Since then, little has been revealed to the public about how that is progressing.

Cllr Swan said: ‘The legislation proposed at the moment is not really good enough.

‘It would be a waste of time. The council needs to wait until the legislation is brought out.

‘I would rather get the legal highs off the streets completely, rather than push them on to a different area.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, who is campaigning against legal highs, has tried getting the council to explain why the meeting was cancelled – but had no answer.