‘Public must be included in Portsmouth 2016 America’s Cup talks’

The grandstand at the America's Cup World Series event in Portsmouth in July Picture: ACEA 2015 / Gilles Mart
The grandstand at the America's Cup World Series event in Portsmouth in July Picture: ACEA 2015 / Gilles Mart

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STOP leaving us in the dark over plans for next year’s America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth.

That’s the message from residents as fears grow there has not been enough openness over the handling of the 2016 sailing spectacle.

We are elected to make decisions, this is a contract with the America’s Cup, it’s business sensitive.

Portsmouth Tory culture boss Linda Symes

And seafront traders left out of talks regarding the closure of the seafront for the 2015 cup regatta featuring city-based sailing side Land Rover BAR hope they’ll be consulted – despite hearing nothing yet.

It comes after the council and event organisers Team Origin met and agreed free events will go on the common for guests, but that was a discussion held in private –and the public does not know what’s been proposed.

In a letter to Tory culture boss Cllr Linda Symes about the private talks, Southsea resident Jeremy Brown said: ‘Because this is a public matter, the decisions made at that meeting should be made public, as should the attendees and the agenda.

‘Otherwise it looks like an agreement is being made by you alone, with Team Origin, without the ability of other elected representatives to be involved, and you would be circumventing the democratic meeting where this matter is to be discussed and decisions made.

‘People might think that you had deliberately made decisions by yourself and excluded others from the process.’

Mr Brown said he was particularly concerned with Team Origin’s desire to make Castle Field part of the ticketed event site.

Cllr Symes said there would be more private meetings about the structure of the event going forward.

But she said negotiations over the cup and use of land around the common had been no different to when the council made decisions over Victorious Festival and other major cultural events.

Clarence Pier co-owner Jill Norman said it was important all parties involved stick to their pledge of keeping traders in the loop.

She said: ‘We have been promised to be consulted with, but up until last year’s event, there was nothing at all.

‘We didn’t hear anything right up until two days before that the seafront was being closed down.’

Lib Dem leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson raised concerns.

He said: ‘Why is there a culture of secrecy at the council? This is about events for people in Portsmouth and Southsea. The common belongs to the people, it doesn’t belong to the council.’

But Cllr Symes said: ‘We are elected to make decisions, this is a contract with the America’s Cup, it’s business sensitive. If you had a company, would you consult with all of the shareholders when you make a decision? Of course not. The council is a company, as much as anything else.’