Portsmouth’s homelessness champion considers exiting role due to ‘political games’

Councillor Paul Godier
Councillor Paul Godier
Councillor Andy Lenaghan

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PortSmouth’s homelessness champion was last night considering stepping down, stating political ‘games’ had made his position ‘untenable.’

Councillor Paul Godier, group leader of the independent group on the city council said that other political parties would ‘probably never’ work with him and that each party has their own agenda for tackling homelessness.

Each political party has its own agenda on helping our homeless.

Councillor Paul Godier, Portsmouth’s homelessness champion

The politician was picked for the role upon its creation by the council’s leader, Councillor Donna Jones.

It followed the disbanding of the cross-party homeless working group this June after nearly a year of work.

Cllr Godier wrote on a Facebook post: ‘Each political party has its own agenda on helping our homeless.

‘Either they work with and support groups that are part of the problem or they plan projects without a thought of who runs the project at all.

‘Now I am only an independent councillor so asking for support or fair acknowledgement is a big ask as Labour and Lib Dem members want my ward.

‘So their supporters and they themselves just want me out of the council, hence they won’t, have not, nor probably never will work with me due to political needs and it is obvious.’

The councillor, who was formerly homeless himself, added that political ‘games and manoeuvres between parties were ‘getting worse’ ahead of next May’s elections.

Cllr Jones said that she had ‘a lot of time’ for Cllr Godier and praised him for his actions in the role.

‘Paul’s done great work in his role as the city’s homelessness champion,’ she said.

‘I have got a lot of time for Paul. I meet with him regularly and spoke to him over the weekend about it. His knowledge has been invaluable in explaining the needs of homelessness to other councillors across the council.’

The statement came as a shock to opposition leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We were disappointed to see the closure of the homeless working group by the administration and feel it should be continued. We are very happy to work with everybody and anybody to help tackle homelessness in the city.’

Labour group leader Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP said: ‘Homelessness has doubled in Portsmouth over the last few years. That is completely unacceptable and we need cross-party support and action. I remain committed to working with others to do this.’