TRADERS in a struggling shopping district have suffered another setback as Portsmouth City Council has decided to shut down talk of reviving its fortunes.
A 2,000-word letter by Penny Mordaunt outlining how the authority must do more to bring North End back from the brink was to be presented at a council debate tomorrow.
Some things make it on the agenda, some things don’t. As a former local government minister, you would have thought she had been to a council meeting and known that.Portsmouth Tory deputy leader Luke Stubbs
But the council’s legal expert, Michael Lawther, has told the Portsmouth North Tory MP’s office that it cannot be brought up and debated as it doesn’t relate to anything coming up on the agenda – approved a week ago.
And Mr Lawther said full council wasn’t the right place for the matter, and should go instead before the cabinet at a later date.
But shopkeepers says it’s a sign the authority doesn’t care about saving North End’s shops from extinction.
Simon Bratby, owner of Pet Price, in North End, said: ‘It just says that’s it, the council wants to shut North End down and covert it all into flats. That’s the plan. The council just doesn’t seem to take us seriously. It is obviously not concerned about North End whatsoever, or the people who live around the area.’
Ms Mordaunt is confident individual councillors will be able to bring the matter up for debate – but members of her own party in the council agree with Mr Lawther’s stance and have shot her down for making the suggestion.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, Tory deputy leader, said: ‘We have an agreed agenda, there is no other business – meetings would otherwise go on forever if that’s the case. Some things make it on the agenda, some things don’t. As a former local government minister, you would have thought she had been to a council meeting and known that. The things that go on a council agenda is business that needs to be transacted.’
Cllr Stubbs said the issue could have made it onto the agenda if a petition with more than 500 signatures calling for action had been put forward, or if councillors had put it forward as an official notice of motion to be debated.
Cllr Donna Jones, Tory council leader, wants to meet traders and Ms Mordaunt to thrash out a plan – but said the MP must do more. She said: ‘The ball is in Penny’s court to raise the money to help support us.’
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘The council really needs to discuss this and at least acknowledge it as any other business to be raised.I am not expecting them to have all the answers on the night, but they need to raise this and show the traders they are gripping this issue.
‘Mr Lawther is just wrong. The full council is king, the cabinet is sub-ordinate to the full council.
‘Any councillor can raise a matter.’