Leader says Portsmouth Lib Dems survived national downturn in fortunes

TENSE Gerald Vernon-Jackson watches the count at Portsmouth Guildhall
TENSE Gerald Vernon-Jackson watches the count at Portsmouth Guildhall

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THE Lib Dem leader of Portsmouth said his party’s vote didn’t suffer as badly in the city as in other parts of the country.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson conceded his party had lost at least one seat but said he was confident they were bucking the national trend.

Early results showed that they had held onto Baffins, St Jude and Nelson, but lost Copnor.

He said: ‘The three parties had different objectives. Labour hoped to start a rebuilding process and they can be happy as their vote has clearly gone up. But the Tories don’t look likely to benefit as much as they had hoped.

‘In other parts of the country the Lib Dems have suffered badly. But in this city people have still given us support. I think that’s because if you prove that you can run the business element of the council they will support you to do other things. We’ve proved we can do that, as we come in under budget each year and I think that’s why we will stay in control of the council.’

The Lib Dems were defending 10 seats, while the Tories were defending just three, and Labour one.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson, who retained his own seat, said: ‘We have never had to defend so many at once.’

Early signs were that Labour had picked up votes in a number of seats across the city.

Before all the results came in, Portsmouth Labour leader Jim Patey was confident they had done well.

He said: ‘We have been in the doldrums for a good many years now, we have maintained just two seats. Last year many people predicted that I would lose my seat and we were very pleased that didn’t happen. But this year lots of people have come back to us.

‘We are optimistic but not over-confident, but we have been surprised and delighted by support people have shown us across Portsmouth this year and we will build on that to become a force across the city again.’

Tory leader Steve Weymss had also been confident before the results were announced.

He hoped an increased Labour vote could also benefit his group.

He said: ‘People have been extremely positive towards us on the doorsteps.

‘Where Labour gain extra votes in the city most come from the Lib Dems so I think that does us some favours.’