Council leader – decisions need to be made

TO BE DECIDED Gerald Vernon-Jackson
TO BE DECIDED Gerald Vernon-Jackson
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The leader of Portsmouth City Council refused to be drawn into a debate about his future last night.

Doubts have been raised over Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s position because he has stood by his fellow Liberal Democrat leader Mike Hancock ever since the council launched its investigation early last year.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said recently that he knew ‘absolutely’ that Cllr Hancock wanted to participate in Nigel Pascoe’s report – despite city solicitor Michael Lawther saying at a public meeting that he refused to.

Asked by The News whether the suspension of Cllr Hancock affects his position and whether he now regrets standing by his fellow party member, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘All of these things will be decided in the future.

‘The important thing is that the people of Portsmouth continue to receive the services they depend on from the city council.’

He said the Liberal Democrat group will hold a meeting tomorrow evening over whether Cllr Hancock keeps his position as cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic redevelopment for the time being.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘The Lib Dem group on the city council will need to discuss all these issues and come to a conclusion.

‘Decisions on roles has always been a decision that has been taken by all the councillors together, and this should be no different. There is a group meeting scheduled for Friday evening.’

Cllr Donna Jones, Conservative group leader, has written a letter to the council leader calling for him to stand down.

‘I am calling for the leader to stand down because he has failed to act in a responsible way.

‘The leader could be guilty of bringing the council into disrepute by failing to take immediate and urgent action.

‘If this was a conservative councillor I would have suspended them from the outset to simply protect both the councillor and alleged victim.’