Local elections 2022: Portsmouth voters say local issues and cost of living will sway who gets their support

THIS year's Portsmouth City Council elections take place in the wake of a series of national political scandals, a cost of living crisis and a war in Ukraine, yet figures in the city still expect local issues to be king when it comes to how ballots are cast.

By Josh Wright
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 8:57 am
Updated Saturday, 30th April 2022, 9:06 am

Sixty-one candidates have been nominated for the 14 seats available this year as the major parties seek to wrest control of a council which has spent most of the last two decades without any group having a majority.

City council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who heads the current Lib Dem minority administration, said he expected his group to make gains on Thursday, despite two of its most senior figures, councillors Ben Dowling and Rob Wood, not restanding.

'People are pleased with the work we've done,' he said. 'They are saying on the doorsteps that they are happy with the way we've run the city.

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Ballot boxes are carried in for counting

'I don't think we've ever had as many positive comments in the lead-up to an election.'

He said the Lib Dem group had set a range for its expected gains but declined to share these predictions.

In the north of the city, the Portsmouth Independents Party, which has grown out of the election of George Madgwick in Paulsgrove last year, will be looking to challenge in mainly Tory heartlands by taking advantage of national turmoil in the party.

'There has a great deal negativity around the Tories that we haven't really seen with the other main parties,' he said. 'Lots of people have told us they won't vote for the party but we've also seen people who are disenfranchised with the whole system.

Cosham resident David Jerams said national issues would play a part in how he votes Picture: Josh Wright

He said he expected turnout to be lower than previous years, although that concern has not been shared by others.

'People in Portsmouth are very savvy,' Conservative group leader Simon Bosher said. 'They know these are local elections about who runs the city and they know that we have no involvement with what happens at a national level.

'That's what we've seen on the doorstep: people who want councillors who will sort the issues in their area, they want people to sort parking and they're fed up with what they've seen from the Lib Dems.'

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Tony Cedric said the cost of living crisis was the biggest issue affecting people in Portsmouth Picture: Josh Wright

But people on the High Street have said these problems will have a bearing on how they cast their vote, with the cost of living crisis dominating many discussions.

Pensioner Tony Cedric said rising costs, particularly for energy, were putting significant pressure on budgets.

'We used to pay £20 a week for electricity but now we're paying £30-£35,' he said. 'That has a big impact on people like us - and there are a lot of people like us in this city.

'What we need from the council is clarity on when we will get the £150 council tax rebate. As pensioners we could do with that money now.'

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

Cosham resident David Jerams, a self-declared opponent of the Tories, said he felt scandals surrounding the party nationally would play a part in how people vote locally.

'Both play a part in how I vote,' he said. 'You want the right people in to sort things in your area but you see everything that's going on with them recently and it's not good.'

Joy Caisley, who has already cast a postal vote, said choosing who to select had been 'very difficult'.

'What happens nationally does affect the way we vote,' she said. 'It's been so overwhelming recently that it almost came down to just sticking a pin on a board and choosing whoever it landed on.'

Friends Pamela Morgan and Gillian Roberts, long-standing Lib Dem and Tory voters living in the south and north of the city respectively, said they felt their councillors had 'done a good job' of dealing with local issues and would not be changing their voting habits this year.

Pledges around housing, parking and healthcare provision could prove to be particularly popular vote winners.

Tory leader Cllr Simon Bosher. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1)

Labour, which saw success last year with the election of Charlotte Gerada in the Central Southsea seat held by Cllr Vernon-Jackson's then deputy Steve Pitt, will hope its campaigning around the introduction of the Living Wage for carers and outsourced council workers and increasing affordable housing will strike a chord with voters.

'Too many Portsmouth people have been left behind and seen profits go to just a few. That has to change,' its election manifesto said. 'We want a better life for everyone, so it’s time those benefits were spread around.'

Since 2000, Portsmouth City Council has spent just four years under majority control, with the Lib Dems running it from 2009 until 2014.

A Conservative minority administration took over that year, before falling back under Lib Dem control - again without a majority - in 2018.

The Tories are the single largest group with 17 councillors, followed by 15 Lib Dems, seven Labour councillors, two members of the Progressive Portsmouth People Group and a single Portsmouth Independents Party councillor.

Voting will take place on Thursday with votes counted overnight at the Guildhall.

Who’s standing where

Baffins ward

Jason Christopher - Labour Party

Charlie Douglas - Conservative Party

Abdul Mohammed Kadir - Liberal Democrat

Paul Antony Oakley-Cleife - Portsmouth Independents, Putting Baffins First

Bob Simmonds - Green Party

Jeanette Lynne Smith - Independent

Central Southsea ward

George David Fielding - Labour Party

Menno Groen - Green Party

Jack Ethan Jackson - Conservative Party

Sarah Elisabeth Shreeve - Liberal Democrat

Charles Dickens ward

Yinka Adeniran - Labour Party

Maria Cole - Liberal Democrat

Chris Dike - Portsmouth Independents, Putting Charles Dickens First

Chris Pickett - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Renu Raj - Conservative Party

Copnor ward

Gordon Peter Candlish - Liberal Democrat

Raymond Kenneth Dent - Portsmouth Independents, Putting Copnor First

Tim Sheerman-Chase - Green Party

Ben Swann - Conservative Party

Mary Vallely - Labour Party

Cosham ward

Catherine Helena Cole - Liberal Democrat

Hannah Hockaday - Conservative Party

Mike Jerome - Portsmouth Independents, Putting Cosham First

Asghar Shah - Labour Party

Drayton & Farlington ward

Delwar Hussain Baig - Liberal Democrat

Simon Bosher - Conservative Party

Pooja Mishra Jha - Labour Party

Tom Oulds - Portsmouth Independents, Drayton and Farlington First

Eastney & Craneswater ward

Scott Philip Green - Conservative Party

Lee Matthew Tindal - Portsmouth Independents, Eastney & Craneswater First

Matthew Ray Winnington - Liberal Democrat

Craig Withey - Labour Party

Fratton ward

Tom Coles - Labour Party

David Edward Charles Fuller - Liberal Democrat

Paul Marvin Sweeney - Conservative Party

Hilsea ward

Frank Edward Jonas - Conservative Party

Julian Thomas Lewis - Labour Party

Emma Louise Kimberley Murphy - Green Party

Russell Peter William Simpson - Portsmouth Independents, Putting Hilsea First

Peter John Williams - Liberal Democrat

Milton ward

David Michael Chandler - Conservative Party

Sarah Louise Shilling Gilbert - Green Party

Steve Pitt - Liberal Democrat

Paula Ann Savage - Labour Party

Nelson ward

Nick Doyle - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Jason Fazackarley - Liberal Democrat

Spencer Roy Gardner - Conservative Party

Aimee-Louise Annette Gwyther - Labour Party

Duncan Stuart Robinson - Green Party

Paulsgrove ward

Nicky Dodd - Liberal Democrat

Raj Ghosh - Labour Party

Andy MacFarlane - Conservative Party

Brian John Madgwick - Portsmouth Independents, Putting PaulsgroveFirst

St Jude ward

Alicia Ruth Denny - Conservative Party

Ian David McCulloch - Green Party

Martin James Northern - Liberal Democrat

Judith Deborah Smyth - Labour Party

St Thomas ward

Joshua Anthony Allen - Labour Party

Mark Jeffery - Liberal Democrat

Robert Anthony Johnson - Conservative Party

Elliott Lee - Green Party

Cllr George Madgwick of the Portsmouth Independents Party Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)