It was encouraging that the results of a survey published in The News last week showed 64 per cent of people think Portsmouth has improved over the past 10 years.
Many people on the doorstep during the recent local elections said they appreciated the investment the Lib Dem-run city council is making – and helping front-line services by cutting unnecessary costs, for example by paying our councillors less than Tory Southampton.
The challenge now is to continue that improvement. Last week the council, subject to final approval today, gave the go-ahead for approximately £500,000 of further improvements to the Southsea shopping area. The new Southsea library and council contact centre is nearing completion and, ahead of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year, we have refurbished the Jubilee fountain in Commercial Road.
On Thursday, the Southsea Food Festival starts and continues over the weekend. And this is followed by the Portsmouth Festivities, culminating in a celebration and firework display on Castle Field on Sunday, June 26. There is now free entry to Southsea Castle with an excellent new cafe there run by the ‘social enterprise’ company Yellow Kite. I would encourage people to come and visit Portsmouth – there has never been a better time!
And next year there will be Olympic celebrations and events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, for which the council secured a £300,000 lottery grant.
We have also recently opened a new passenger terminal at the International Commercial Port which is run by a company owned by the city council. This is a ‘win-win’ situation, helping safeguard and create jobs while the dividend that comes to the council helps keep the council tax down.
This year’s local elections saw the best-ever results for the Lib Dems in Portsmouth – winning nine out of the 14 seats up for grabs. But I am never complacent and always impatient to get more done. Working together, I hope we can see even greater improvements in the city over the next 10 years.