Cash handouts questioned after cuts

John Woods
John Woods
The memorial celebrating Portsmouth's great boxers is unveiled by Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Ken Ellcome and boxer Joel McIntyre Picture: Neil Marshall (171035-23)

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PROTESTERS against cuts have questioned whether Portsmouth City Council should set aside thousands of pounds for street parties in a so-called ‘era of austerity’.

Members of Portsmouth Against the Cuts Together (Pact), which on Tuesday took part in a demonstration against the council’s budget, which includes £15m savings and 184 job losses, called for the authority to reset its priorities.

Pact member Jon Woods questioned whether it was be sensible for the council to set aside £10,000 for street parties to celebrate the Royal wedding this April.

He said: ‘People in government would like to use the wedding as a distraction and this could be seen as part of that.

‘The £10,000 is maybe not a massive amount of money, but there must be better priorities than this.

‘Given the scale of the cuts, and job losses, the council should be looking at the front-line services it’s cutting. This money could employ a part-time librarian for a year.’

But the council’s leader for culture and leisure, Cllr Lee Hunt, said: ‘I do understand the concerns and they are fair. But it’s not a huge amount of money, and these parties can build neighbourliness and community spirit by getting people talking to each other. We can also tie in activities and healthy eating.

‘They will be fun, and they could have long-term benefits.’