A POLITICAL row has erupted over a loan given by Portsmouth City Council to an events company that never ended up being repaid in full.
Southsea Show Limited received £20,000 from the former Liberal Democrat administration in 2014 to help towards the cost of putting on a family fayre on Southsea Common that year.
The company also received money from other local organisations. But the event wasn’t as successful as hoped – and figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the council only ended up getting £5,000 back.
Tory culture boss Linda Symes claimed it’s now important to highlight given Southsea Show Ltd’s director at the time was Steve Pitt, a Lib Dem activist hoping to be elected on to the council at the forthcoming May local elections.
Cllr Symes believes Mr Pitt has been acting slightly hypocritically, attacking the council for its cuts and financial affairs.
But Mr Pitt, who was not a member of the Lib Dem council at the time of the loan being agreed, said the firm offered to repay it in full after the event. Cllr Symes said the council agreed to settle for £5,000.
Mr Pitt, who also ran The Cellars at Eastney before it closed, said: ‘This is entirely politically motivated and the truth has been distorted for political ends. I can categorically prove that there was no wrongdoing and that the only reason PCC was not repaid in full is because they, the Tories, turned down Southsea Show Limited’s offer to do so.’
But Cllr Symes said: ‘My concern is that Mr Pitt is constantly in the public domain speaking about how we should save money, and it seems slightly hypocritical.
‘The council had due diligence in place and a contract was agreed in the belief the company would repay the money. Obviously, that didn’t transpire.’
In a separate statement, Mr Pitt added: ‘Southsea Show Limited, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, reached an agreement with all of its creditors and made a final settlement of its debts in accordance with that agreement.
‘This was a community-led event and no company director, nor any of the company’s subscriber partners, received any payment at any point.’