Syd, last man standing as Portsmouth City Council loses key powers

Portsmouth City Council 1973
Portsmouth City Council 1973
The letter of commendation from the Southern Railway management. It took two months to send it.

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Two historic pictures here taken on the eve of Portsmouth’s emasculation.

It was 1973 and the occasion was the last meeting of Portsmouth City Council before it lost most of its key powers to Hampshire County Council.

From 1974, as local government was radically reorganised across the country, the Winchester-based authority took control of the city’s schools and colleges, social services, roads, transport and strategic planning.

The city was demoted to a district council and would not regain its full potency until 1997 when there was a further shake-up in town halls across England and Wales.

The picture above was taken outside the Guildhall while the one below is from the public gallery inside the council chamber during that final meeting.

Both pictures come from former Labour councillor, lord mayor and Portsmouth North MP Syd Rapson.

He was elected to the city council in 1971 where he remained until he went to Westminster in 1997. He still attends council meetings in his capacity as an honorary alderman, the only one of those pictured who still does.

In the picture below, Syd is circled (right) on Labour’s backbenches alongside his old sparring partner and then party colleague, Mike Hancock.

The line-up above is: standing (back row l to r): Cllrs Mrs E Loney-Hampton, P Ashley, F Sorrell, S Rapson, B Miller, A Spraggs, A Gibbs, J Cockerill, L Kitchen, M Hancock, J Mitchell, J Wearn, F Thornton.

Middle row: Mrs E Spencer, P Hancock, D Brown, W Fry, R Hancock, I Gibson, A White, R Sotnick, R Taylor, S Stebbing, Miss MW Sutcliffe, S Fiddy, J Marshall, Mrs A Storey, Mrs E Fudge, Mrs M Prince, C Wakefield.

Front: AE Elliott, G Byng, J Rigby, G Austin, Hon Alderman G Wallis, Aldermen M Bresler, Miss H Brady, F Emery-Wallis, D Connors, J Blair, Hon Aldermen S Willson, F Potts, Cllrs A Darby, A Dann, E Taplin.

Sitting: Aldermen W Evans, J Nye, C Stevens, F Miles, The Provost (The Very Rev M Nott), Alderman Miss P Loe (deputy lord mayor), Cllr J Brogden (lord mayor); Mr R Haslegrave (town clerk and chief executive), Aldermen H Collins, A Asquith-Leeson, A Jamieson, E Bateson, C Worley, Cllr Mrs E Thomas.