Delighted to see all that groundwork has paid off

COMMENT: Let’s make these towers safe as soon as possible

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The saga of Pompey has had more twists and turns than most TV soaps. But last week’s decision in the High Court that finally paves the way for the Pompey Supporters’ Trust to take over the club was excellent news.

Of course, this has only been possible thanks to the immense hard work of the leaders of the bid and the loyal support of the fans.

But I’m also pleased the city council has done its bit by giving the trust a loan of £1.45m to see it through until some £12m of Premier League parachute payments come through in August.

This has involved many long meetings with myself, council officers and the leader, the trust and the administrator. But hopefully the news means it’s all been worth it.

Of course there’s a small risk to the council in making this loan, but it was unanimously agreed by all councillors last year. So I was a bit surprised that the leader of the Labour group said we should renege on that promise and turn our back on the club – especially when the council treasurer said the risk was now less than last year.

Taking Labour’s advice and the club going out of business and out of the Football league would mean waving goodbye not only to that £12m Premier League parachute payment, redistributed to other clubs such as Southampton, but also the immense economic benefit the club brings and its pioneering Respect programme that tackles anti-social behaviour among young people and improves their job skills. Surely not a good idea!

Other good news last week was the city council’s approval of the masterplan which lays the groundwork for the seafront to be transformed.

And we have also announced a crackdown on landlords of smaller student and multi-occupancy HMO houses in the south of the city with compulsory licensing of landlords.

Sometimes politics seems tortuously slow. But last week saw all the hard groundwork on the club, the seafront and HMOs finally come together.

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