THE former leader of Portsmouth City Council has criticised central government over its contribution to the D-Day commemorations.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has said he is disappointed with the lack of funding provided by the government to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The leader of the Lib Dems said: ‘The D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth spoke of the debt this nation owes to the people who planned and executed the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.
‘It was the veterans who were the centre of our commemorations.
‘My thanks to everyone involved for organising these so well.
‘Portsmouth did this for the whole nation to show our gratitude.
‘Yet the British government refused all requests to help fund these commemorations in Portsmouth.
‘It was left to Portsmouth City Council and council taxpayers in Portsmouth to organise and fund all these commemorations and to show proper respect to those who fought and those who lost their lives.
‘Our government should be ashamed of itself and the lack of respect for the veterans.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson acknowledged that there was support from the government but that it wasn’t financial.
‘There was a contribution but they didn’t put any cash in,’ he said.
‘They expected Portsmouth City Council to put every single penny in and that’s not good enough.’
But a spokesperson for the MoD said: ‘This is nonsense and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the support that was in place.
‘The armed forces contributed significantly and were an integral part of the commemorations, providing a guard of around 150 personnel, an amphibious landing by Royal Marines from HMS Bulwark and a display by the Red Arrows as a mark of respect for our veterans.
‘The commemoration events attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Portsmouth and would have contributed significantly to the community and local economy.
‘The government ensured that the veterans were the real VIPs and it is completely wrong to suggest otherwise.’