‘A huge waste of time and money’ – Portsmouth fails to send councillor to transport meeting

Donna Jones
Donna Jones
Danny Johnston

PTSD victim Danny Johnston was a British special forces hero

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A ROW has broken out between two Hampshire authorities after the chairman of a transport committee blasted Portsmouth City Council for failing to send a single member to its meeting, meaning no decisions could be made.

Southampton City Council’s cabinet member Jacqui Rayment called on Portsmouth to take the Solent Transport Joint Committee ‘seriously’, following several issues in the past.

It comes after the council’s constitution was amended to allow non-cabinet members to attend the meeting, solely to help Portsmouth.

But Labour councillor Rayment was unimpressed by the authority, which ‘wasted the time’ of the other councillors from Southampton, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that attended to discuss plans for the region’s transport network.

She said: ‘We have been in constant talks with Portsmouth City Council, along with its leader (Donna Jones).

‘We were told it couldn’t send anyone because of purdah (the pre-election period) which it said meant it couldn’t facilitate members – these meetings are scheduled nine months to a year in advance.

‘We do not care who comes, just send someone so we can meet our quorum.’

She added: ‘To say I’m not very happy is an understatement.

‘It is not a good use of public money and not a good use of our time.’

Cllr Rayment also said that it was a ‘strange’ excuse from the authority as Southampton City Council are also in the purdah, ahead of the May 3 elections, but could still attend the meeting, albeit that it was held in its home city.

But Cllr Jones has hit back, saying there was no need to hold the meeting so close to next week’s election.

‘It was a poor decision to hold the meeting the week before the election and during the ‘purdah’ period,’ said the Conservative council leader.

‘Cllr Rayment was made aware in advance of the meeting that Cllr Simon Bosher (cabinet member for traffic and transport) was not able to make the meeting and that instead Portsmouth City Council would be sending an officer to the meeting instead.

‘Looking at the agenda there was no urgent need for the meeting and as a consequence a small amount of public money has been wasted.

‘If Cllr Rayment remains the chair I would urge her to exercise some common sense when setting the dates for the meetings in the future.’

An extraordinary meeting is now expected to be held in June to discuss the missed agenda items.