New plans to help city's homeless +  stories you may have missed from Portsmouth City Council this week

WITH the August recess well and truly behind us council meetings this week have resumed their position as a bountiful source of stories.

Friday, 7th September 2018, 4:52 pm
Updated Friday, 7th September 2018, 4:57 pm
There are new plans to help homeless people in Portsmouth

Drift in the City

Still unimpressed by the Lib Dems' vote to scrap Victory Energy last month Tory leader, Cllr Donna Jones, challenged the decision to demolish former bar Drift in the City at Tuesday's regeneration meeting.

The £155,000 proposal to knock down Drift in the City on Isambard Brunel Road in Southsea was approved by Cllr Ben Dowling in a bid to increase public space and improve access to Victoria Park.

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Cllr Dowling said: 'I made this decision in order to create a better public   is part of our culture and regeneration strategy for the city. It's a relatively low-cost demolition and it's a building that has lain derelict for a number of years, over a decade .

'By opening this space up we'll have a clear view from the station all the way through to the park and beyond and this will create a big improvement going forward.'

However, Cllr Donna Jones, felt the site could've been put to better use. Speaking in the meeting she said: 'The building is estimated to be worth between £300-£400,000, which is generous because it is in a bad state of repair. But it is a big space and it is worth doing up.

'Here we have a proposal to spend £150,000 to make a walkway when we could make £300,000 on it, or make £75,000 a year renting it out.'

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Karaoke anyone? 

So one bar will come down but it looks like another could go up.

An application has been made to turn a former Conservative club on Albert Road into a karaoke venue complete with private booths, screens and a bar.

It will be debated at a future planning meeting.

The site previously caused controversy when its owner applied to turn it into a lap dancing venue earlier this year. However, councillors ruled it out.

Portsmouth charity Aurora New Dawn campaigned against the strip joint. When asked about the potential karaoke bar, Zoe Jackson, from the charity, said: 'Albert Road is a vibrant community area and the premises in question is close to schools, community shops and the Wedgewood Rooms.

'Whilst we still believe there is no '˜right' location for so-called sexual entertainment venues,  the new proposal seems to be a much more fitting use of this building given its community location.'

New plan for rough sleepers

Meanwhile the announcement of a new scheme to help rough sleepers in the city was made this week.

If approved at a special housing meeting next week individuals would be provided with a personal housing plan to help them find accommodation as well as dealing with wider issues such as employment, mental or physical health, drugs, alcohol and debt.

Many of the areas to be considered through the scheme already come under the remit of homeless charity the Society of St James. Speaking about the government grant, its chief executive, Trevor Pickup, said: 'We think this is excellent news and we are very pleased that the national government is taking an interest in homelessness in individual towns and city.

'The plan with Portsmouth City Council is a good one. We are pleased that facilities and options for individuals will be increased as it will enable us to carry on with the projects that we are already working on.'

The money for the project came from a £384,000 government grant.

Children and family services

Speaking of money and Portsmouth City Council was revealed to be part of a national crisis that saw councils last year collectively spend £816m more on children's services than budgeted.

It has been predicted that the council will have to shell out £5m extra in the next year on children and families services.

In a children and families report it was revealed that children's social care and safeguarding is the biggest drain on funds. In total this service will cost £5.2m more than expected, with most of this to be spent on finding homes for children, via means such as adoption and fostercare.

The report that this was a national problem. It said: 'Whilst spending in children's social care is outside of the allocated budget in Portsmouth, we are not considered a high spending service when benchmarked against comparators; rather, recent activity with the LGA (Newton Consultants) highlighted Portsmouth as low spending in children's social care in comparison with other authorities.'

Read more on this story here.