Portsmouth City Council agrees £10m cuts package

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PORTSMOUTH’S families have been dealt a heavy blow after £10m worth of cuts to council services were approved.

The city council’s leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the savings were fair and balanced and attacked the amendments put forward by the opposition parties. Council tax will go up by 1.95 per cent next year, an increase of 34p a week for each home.

Southsea Library will close on Sundays and late-night openings at Cosham, North End and Southsea libraries will be removed one night a week. Up to 48 council employees could lose their jobs.

Travel tokens will be taken away from the disabled and The Patey Day Centre, in Cosham, which supports dementia patients, will shut and its services will be transferred – subject to consultation – to The Royal Albert Centre in Landport.

Savings have been made because the government is cutting its funding.

The Conservatives suggested cutting special responsibility allowances for leaders and cabinet members by 33 per cent, while Labour said everyone should take a 20 per cent pay cut and more staff should be employed at Sure Start centres.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘To call the amendments pathetic is being polite.

‘If people in this city are looking for a group of people to run a responsible budget handling £700m of public money, they should look around here. They would see a balanced proposal and two joke proposals.’

Questions were raised about the need for such heavy savings.

Cllr Donna Jones, Conservative group leader, said £5m shouldn’t have gone to Southsea Community Leisure Limited, the former operators of The Pyramids Centre.

Cllr Alastair Thompson said a statement revealed a group of officers had paid for theatre tickets with a corporate credit card.

It was said at the meeting £502,500 was paid out in staff mileage claims and £14,000 was spent on taxi fares during the last financial year.