Getting parties to present a united front is big challenge

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So we enter a new era of politics in Portsmouth, where Conservative group leader Donna Jones is the newly-installed leader of the city council.

After a decade of Liberal Democrat Gerald Vernon-Jackson at the helm, his resignation in the wake of bad election results means it’s all change.

Now we have the Tories in charge, but only thanks to the support of both Ukip and Labour.

While Cllr Vernon-Jackson now has an eye on becoming the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South in next year’s General Election, the reins of the council are in the hands of somebody who is Pompey born and bred and the first woman to lead the Tories in this city.

With Penny Mordaunt already MP for Portsmouth North, that should certainly help to inspire other women to believe they too can reach high office in the political jungle.

But with power can come problems.

Cllr Jones certainly faces a tough task leading a council when the Tories only have 12 of the 42 seats.

As a minority administration, it will rely heavily on the support of other parties to get votes passed.

Yet Ukip and Labour have already made it clear that they don’t want to enter into any coalition.

They intend to act separately and vote on issues as they wish.

The challenge facing Cllr Jones is to get all parties working together for the good of the city, putting politics aside to build on what has already been achieved through modernisation and raising the city’s profile both at home and abroad.

Cllr Jones talks about ending secrecy and backroom deals and insists ‘everyone will have their say’ in the preparation of budgets and other key decisions.

We wish her well with that. Because there are opportunities for jobs and growth out there and we really need our city councillors to capitalise on them by showing a united front rather than descending into self-interest.

Keeping them pointing in the same direction could yet be Cllr Jones’s biggest challenge of all.