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There’s a lot of good news in the city – council leader

City council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson says the future is looking bright for Portsmouth.

He made his comments after our report looking at the issues voters in Portsmouth will be weighing up before they go to the polls next week.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Portsmouth has seen several severe shocks over the last few years – the loss of shipbuilding being the worst. But the city seems to have a resilience and has bounced back.

News that Ben Ainslie is looking to base his Great Britain team here in Portsmouth is good news. It’s a real vote of confidence and will mean real jobs.

‘When Team NZ worked in Auckland a study showed they had created over 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.

‘The decision from the navy to base the new carriers in Portsmouth means that the future of the Navy is secure in Portsmouth for the next 40 years. Under the last government The News worked with the city council, the university and many local organisations to change their minds. This was successful and the future of the navy is now secure.

‘There have also been proposals to transform The Hard interchange, which has looked terrible for years, as well as plans for a new tower to replace the Brunel Building on the Hard. Gunwharf has become one of the most popular shopping centres on the south coast.

‘Knight & Lee’s decision to stay in Southsea is a real vote of confidence. Portsmouth seems to have been lucky in keeping all its children’s centres open, as well as all the museums and libraries.

All councils are under severe pressure because the government has cut funding so much. Tough decisions have had to be made.

‘ Even so the city council is building an extra 1,000 school places in primary schools, and has started to build council houses for the first time in a generation.

‘It was one of the great mistakes of past governments not to replace each council house that was sold off with a new council house. Now action is taking place in Portsmouth.

‘South Parade Pier now has new owners, who at long last have a plan to repair the pier. The Theatre Royal is being rebuilt after the terrible fire there in the 1970s.

‘The Guildhall has a new operator and The Pyramids is being revamped and its number of users continues to grow. The football club is owned by supporters and has paid off the loan that the council offered to stop them going into liquidation. ‘While the government refused to fund D-Day commemorations the council has stepped it to make this happen.

‘Paying for services is never popular. In Portsmouth the council has frozen council tax for four of the last five years. Residents pay less council tax in Portsmouth than anywhere else in Hampshire except Basingstoke.

‘The councillors were offered a pay rise by the independent remuneration panel but to their credit decided not to accept it.

‘Overall there is a confidence in the city about the future. There have been tough decisions to be taken and the city is lucky that the current administration has, on the whole, made the right decisions.

‘No-one is perfect, but the city is in safe hands.’

 

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