THE former leader of Portsmouth City Council has said that she would have pressed on against police advice and approved a big screen on Southsea Common.
Today current leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said that despite working on a plan to erect a big screen and a fenced-off area on Southsea Common on Sunday for the final, the council had decided not to press ahead because police were worried about crime and disorder.
But former leader Donna Jones said that was the wrong decision.
'Having given this much consideration and taking into account the pros and cons I have to be honest and confirm if I was running the council, the football would be televised on a big screen,’ she said.
'Whilst I have full respect for the police and the part they play in ensuring people are kept safe, I am hugely disappointed that the World Cup final will not be shown in a public place.
'The police have an opinion, but they don't have the ultimate say. The common is 'common land' -owned by the people and it is on national historical occasions such as this that people should be able to enjoy the public open spaces in the city.
'Last year when Pompey were promoted and finished the season as League 2 champions I approved and arranged a celebration on the common with less than seven days notice. It can be done and thousands of people attended that.
'I want to place on record my thanks to the cabinet member who has included me in the council's thought process.'
A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: 'I can confirm that we (police) participated in the Portsmouth Safety Advisory Group meeting along with partners and event organisers on July 10 to discuss Portsmouth having a large screen to show the World Cup final.
'Because of the considerable risks in relation to crime and disorder and safeguarding, and in this particular instance because of the short notice, we advised the council not to facilitate a public space to watch the football in Portsmouth.
'However ultimately the decision lies with the council as to whether they provide a public space to watch the football, or not.’
Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan, who is also a city councillor, campaigned for a screen to b e brought to the city.
He said: ‘This is very disappointing news for our city and football fans.
'Despite offering help, sharing ideas and practical suggestions, and more and more people backing my campaign, it’s such a shame the council leader couldn’t bang heads together and make this happen safely here in Portsmouth.
'In any event, I look forward to joining family and friends at a local pub to celebrate football coming home this Sunday.'