City needs to have strong leadership at the helm

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The aftershocks from last week’s local elections will be felt through English politics for years to come.

And they are already being felt most keenly here in Portsmouth.

There are now 31 councils in England where no party has overall control – an increase of seven – and one of those is the city council.

There would never really be a good time for the city council to be left paralysed and without any effective leadership, but if ever there was a time that the city needed a firm hand on the tiller it is now.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the leader of the Lib Dem group, says he will step aside if any of the other parties form a coalition that gives them a majority.

However, these parties have spent the last few months tearing strips off each other during the election campaigns. Entering into any sort of meaningful political relationship will be fraught to say the least.

This would appear to be borne out when councillor Donna Jones, leader of the Conservative group described any union with either Ukip or Labour as being ‘off the table.’

The six new Ukip councillors could very well find themselves holding the keys to power.

But at the moment they also say that they will not enter into a coalition with any of the other parties.

You can be sure, though, that frantic backroom talks are currently taking place between the parties, trying to thrash out some sort of deal.

A minority party holding the power by themselves is unlikely to prove effective, with every vote in the council chamber doomed to failure. And if that party were to turn to ruling through the cabinet to force its policies through, it is highly likely to foment accusations of a lack of accountability.

But the longer the council is left without effective leadership, the more the city, its people and its reputation will suffer.

We only hope an effective way forward can be found for the sake of everyone and not just narrow political point-scoring.