NEWS COMMENT: Knives are drawn over scrapping of energy deal

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It looks as though we could be in a for another ‘Night of the Long Knives’ as Tory and Labour councillors unite to call in a decision to scrap a multi-million pound city energy deal.

The ‘fury’ comes after the Lib Dems thwarted a Tory masterplan to set up a council-owned energy firm in Portsmouth, opting to axe the proposals before they could get off the ground.

On Saturday, August 11, we reported that city council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson described it as a ‘great sadness’ as he recommended that Victory Energy should not go forward, with his cabinet voting unanimously in his favour.

Two reasons given were that the company, which had yet to start operating, would have required a further multi-million pound loan to get going as well as around 44,000 households to sign up in the first year to break even.

Would it have worked? Could the council have got a ‘loan’ from central government?

Possibly, quite a few thousand more than 44,000 city households would have quickly signed up – if of course the price was right – and Victory Energy would have made life a lot easier for people with queries or problems which needed sorting by simply having a local supplier to hand.

Still, politics is politics and the knives are drawn.

Both Tory and Labour councillors claim the Lib Dems had ‘misunderstood’ the figures and scrapped a scheme – that could bring millions of pounds back into the city – based on ‘fundamentally flawed and inaccurate’ information. Meanwhile, Cllr Ben Dowling, city’s planning and regeneration boss, said the party had been fully briefed on Victory Energy and had a ‘rounded view’ of the finances. 

A scrutiny management committee, made of cross-party councillors, will meet on September 16 to look at the ‘call-in’.  

Should be interesting...