Off the Fence: Mike Hancock

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock
The drivers' dispute might be over, but at what cost?

CLIVE SMITH: The dressing-up corner is now no longer safe from the PC brigade

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MP for Portsmouth South

That’s £400 to find over 10 years – effectively a stealth parking tax for many.

A key pressure on parking and the need for residents parking zones is people coming into the city to shop, go to the theatre or to our restaurants and pubs.

This directly benefits the city and the council finances to the tune of tens of millions of pounds – keeping the council tax down for all but causing great parking problems in certain areas.

Given that boost to the city and the council finances, it does not seem unreasonable that these households with parking problems should have their first permit free.

I always argued that when a councillor and the council administration I was part of kept the first permit free.

The opposition on the council, the Lib Dems, found a way forward that would have continued to keep them free.

It seems that the Conservative administration, backed by Labour and UKIP, are more concerned about plush new offices for the leader and big screen TVs than helping hard-pressed households in Portsmouth.

I am also very concerned and angry that Portsmouth is missing out on millions of pounds that should be allocated to its GPs to fund healthcare.

It is one of the things that most concerns me as an MP that some areas in my constituency have considerably more chronic disease and up to 10 years less average life expectancy than the national average.

So I will be campaigning for a fair deal for Portsmouth from the health minister.

There has rightly been widespread shock, dismay and condemnation including from Islamic leaders at the massacre of 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died.

While people should always be sensitive to others’ cultural and religious beliefs, freedom of speech is always precious and a key foundation of democracy and the Prime Minister was right to say that we in this country stand with France ‘in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.’