Everything you might have missed from Portsmouth City Council this week

IT MAY have been a tumultuous week for government but Portsmouth City Council was kept running as normal.

Saturday, 17th November 2018, 1:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th November 2018, 2:46 pm
The former Labour Club, Unity Hall, will be demolished to make way for student accommodation

And of course that would not be possible if its finances were in as unstable a state as Mrs May's cabinet.

Luckily, we were assured they would not be with the council's proposed savings plan for the next financial year announced.

In its budget, which will be discussed at the next full council meeting, £4m of savings are planned for 2019-2020.

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Of this seven per cent would come from cuts to services with the rest of the cash coming from income generation, such as property investment, and making economical changes to how services are provided.

The council also plans to increase council tax by 4.5 per cent next year '“ a three per cent rise alongside an additional 1.5 per cent that will go specifically to adult social care.

As a result it is expected that £70,000 would be taken from education next year, whereas £1,358,000 would come from resources - mainly from changing contracts for works.

No money would be taken from children's services due to increasing demands.

City council leader, Cllr Vernon-Jackson, said: 'I am pleased that we have been able to protect services for the most vulnerable people and for children and that over 90 per cent of these proposals coming from increased income or from running services more efficiently.

'We are really grateful to the work that's been done in the past at the council that's instilled a really good attitude towards income generation.'

Councillors from all parties will vote on the proposed budget in December, and then the final budget will be agreed in February.

And then to something that just about every Portsmouth resident has an opinion on - student accommodation.

At a planning committee on Wednesday Portsmouth councillors approved the construction of 123 student flats on the corner of Holbrook Road and Coburg Street.

The 11-storey block will replace Unity Hall, which has been out of use since 2012, and will also provide facilities such as bicycle storage, a gym and a courtyard.

But many councillors raised fears about how it would be situated on the edge of a busy roundabout.

Cllr Lynne Stagg said: '˜I am concerned about dropping off and picking up as the entrance is going to come out onto Holbrook Road. That's an incredibly busy junction which concerns me greatly. That roundabout is constantly moving.'

However, councillors could find no grounds to reject the application. Instead they voted unanimously for its approval with a few concerns to be looked at such as increasing bike storage and creating a drop off and pick up point at the site.

They also saw eye to eye on another close to home issue.

At full council on Tuesday they voted unanimously to put in a bid for the new future high streets fund which nationally amounts to £675m.

If successful the cash would be used to boost existing retail areas in the city such as Commercial Road, Cascades Shopping Centre and Palmerston Road, creating long-term plans with the help of experts and investing in accessibility to the sites. Public events would also be held to increase footfall.

Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs brought the motion to council and was backed by members from all parties. He said: '˜Retail is suffering. Major chains that we once took for granted are closing or shrinking. Just within this last month we've had the announcement that the New Look on Commercial Road will close as well as the Homebase at the Ocean Park.

'˜If you walk around the Cascades you'll find more than a dozen empty stores. And of course this is not just here, it's any town you go to.

'˜We need to do something now and there is an opportunity to bid into money from the government.'