City leaders should focus on what is important

Surely, holding a door open for a member of either sex is just good manners?

LESLEY KEATING: Would you dare hold a door open for a woman?

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There is a fine flight of ceremonial steps leading up to the grand entrance of Portsmouth Guildhall.

You probably know them. They are the ones on which people sit to eat their lunch on fine summer’s days or down which youths ‘toboggan’ in plastic bread baskets late in the evening.

Interesting and absorbing pastimes we are sure.

Here is another. Why not cordon off one end, perhaps with ‘police incident’ tape and create naughty steps for the city’s recalcitrant politicians?

Being made to stand on ‘the naughty step’ seems to be the punishment of choice for parents of wayward children these days.

And sometimes we wonder if that might not be a bad way of reminding politicians of their duties.

Frivolous? Perhaps. But read our page 5 story today and you get a taste of the things which distract those who are supposed to be running our city from what they ought to be doing.

Lib Dem opposition group leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson claims council employees and organisations needing council grants for their survival are living in a climate of fear if they are seen talking to opposition councillors (ie the Lib Dems). Preposterously he likens it to ‘living in a Soviet state’.

He hits out and the Tories and Labour group strike back, citing the previous administration’s own failures.

There are several serious issues here, chief among them the £37m which the council has to cut from its budget.

There is always tension in the Civic Offices in the autumn, when budgets are being prepared. What is different this year, is the looming general election.

That is what’s really behind the current spat – Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s bid to retain the Portsmouth South seat for the Lib Dems and the Tories’ tooth-and-nail fight to keep him out.

We have seven more months of this.

But for the sake of the city we need our leaders to rise above the nonsense and pantomime bickering to focus on the things that really matter.

To read the full story click here.