Idea is a good one but it may not be the right time

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There’s no doubt that having top quality employment space is vital for this area.

As we continue the slow recovery from the recession, businesses new and old need to have a place to go or grow into.

So it’s certainly interesting reading of the leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones’ latest idea.

After discovering that the owner of the IBM building could turn an empty part of the North Harbour building into flats, she says the authority will look into taking on the site.

It would keep the building as a commercial enterprise letting it out to businesses and netting the profits to boost council coffers.

On the surface, this certainly seems like a good idea with winners all round.

The space remains for employment and the council benefits to the tune of the rental income.

But of course the bigger picture makes it slightly more complicated.

Only this week we reported on the money trouble the city council is facing.

In the coming three years it is facing a £37m cut in funding from central government – around a quarter of its controllable spending.

That comes complete with the warning that front-line services could be cut in a bid to claw back the cash.

So it’s no wonder questions are already being asked about this latest idea.

While on the surface, it seems like a good plan, it may be harder to justify if at the same time services are being cut.

While there’s no figure at this early stage, it’s fair to say that taking on the IBM building would not come cheap.

So while we applaud the leader of the city council for looking outside the box for income streams, at this stage, it might just be better to concentrate on the immediate problems that are on the horizon.