COMMENT: Council loses out as ‘people power’ wins the day’

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It’s good news all round but especially for seafood kiosk owner Bim Hartgill and the thousands who enjoy his food at The Hard in Portsmouth.

Mr Hartgill was told by the city council in December that his lease would not be renewed in March this year despite him operating successfully from his premises since 1999. Twenty years of hard graft down the drain?

Understandably, Bim was devastated by the news that the council wanted to put the kiosk out for tender, obviously to try and rake in extra cash, and he failed to persuade the council to change its mind.

He said the council told him via a letter it wouldn’t be entering negotiations with him over the renewal and that he’d more or less got to clear up and move out, no questions asked.

However, that’s where ‘people power’ came to the fore.

An online petition – Save Hartgill Seafood – garnered signatures from hundreds of disgruntled people in hours who realised the rather underhand tactics of the council were ‘not on’ and rallied to support Bim.

A genuine pat on the back goes as well to council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

He contacted Bim to tell him to simply tear up the original letter ‘because it no longer applies.’

Gerald added: ‘Things go wrong. I know nothing about this and as soon as I found out I made sure it was sorted.

Well done indeed. Everyone knows in this day and age that councils up and down the nation, be they parish, town, city or county, need to rake in as much cash as possible to fend off austerity measures but as Gerald said: ‘If the council thinks about pounds and not people what is the point of the council? We need to get the balance right.’

Wise words indeed and it is to be hoped that such a situation does not arise again.

Every place needs honest entrepreneurs like Bim Hartgill who provide a great service to residents.