Full council meetings in Portsmouth postponed until next year due to general election

A MAJOR council debate on Portsmouth's budget will be put on hold for two months as politicians gear up for the country's first winter general election in almost 100 years.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 4:48 pm

Party leaders in the city agreed to postpone full council meetings during election season, pushing the usual December budget meeting back until February.

Another meeting that had been scheduled for November 12 has also been scrapped.

Council leader and the Liberal Democrat candidate for Portsmouth South, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'The advice from council officers was that we should cancel the meetings and that was agreed across all parties.

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Full council meetings in Portsmouth have been postponed due to the upcoming general election

'There was no business in the November meeting so it probably would have been cancelled anyway. At the December meeting we would have looked at the budget review but we will just do the whole budget in February.

'We know we have got to make £2.5m worth of savings, and almost all of that will be in efficiencies.'

Labour MP and city councillor, Stephen Morgan, who has been reselected to stand by his party, agreed: 'Labour backed the recommendation of council staff to postpone the full council meetings,' he said.

'This is advisable because it would be counter-productive setting out the council’s budget at a time when we have no idea what the government settlement will be.'

But Tory boss and prospective Portsmouth South MP, Cllr Donna Jones, had some concerns. She said: 'There is a slight concern that the budget is normally brought forward to December. It can affect job cuts and other important things. Leaving it until February means there's a two month delay.

'But if the Lib Dems are happy they can being a balanced budget in February that's a decision for them.'

Group leader of the recently formed Progressive Portsmouth People, Cllr Claire Udy, said it would have been 'absurd' to hold the meetings.

'Considering the three other group leaders are all parliamentary candidates it would be absurd to hold very important council meetings when they can say what they want,' she said.

'Full council will platform the leaders and their magic wands.'

Other council meetings that are not considered ‘business sensitive’ will continue.

Voters will take to the polls on Thursday, December 12.