Portsmouth councillors squabble over grant meant to help charities

UNDER FIRE: Council leader Donna Jones
UNDER FIRE: Council leader Donna Jones

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A WAR of words has erupted between two council leaders in Portsmouth over a £500,000 pot of cash designed to help charities in the city.

Former council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the city’s Lib Dem party, has criticised the Tory-run authority for its running of the voluntary and community sector transition fund.

He said that in the seven months since fund was launched, not a penny has been used.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I think this is a very poor decision.

‘If a group is struggling and is going to get money from outside Portsmouth it is always worth getting some money to them to get them over the hump.

‘The council needs to have a bit more flexibility.’

However, Tory leader councillor Donna Jones said the funding pot had a specific use.

‘The point of the pot is to transfer services from the central running of the council into the third sector,’ Cllr Jones told BBC Solent.

‘It’s not a pot of money to help prop them up if they are otherwise financially insolvent’.

The news comes after a mental health charity Portsmouth Mind announced it was going to close at the end of the month due to a lack of funding.

The charity was founded in 1965 and worked with people with depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is hunting for more sources of cash from elsewhere since the city council withdraw a £300,000 grant two years ago.

Portsmouth Mind, which has a base in Fratton, is due to close on December 31.