DONNA Jones has congratulated new leader of Portsmouth City Council Gerald Vernon-Jackson who has taken over after a shock vote.
The city council will now be run by the Lib Dem councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson after four years of Tory leadership.
The shake-up came after Tory Cllr Donna Jones stood down in order to let the council take a vote. Cllr cited the election results on May 4, which left the Tories with 19 seats and the Lib Dems with 16.
After the vote Cllr Jones said: ‘My congratulations to Cllr Vernon-Jackson. He has done the job before so he know how it works. It is an immense pleasure and privilege to be the leader of the council. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.’
Before the ballot Cllr Jones said: ‘Following the local elections the city has been left with no overall control.
‘This is a sad situation for Porstmouth, for the city council and the staff who work here.
‘I am technically resigning but I will be re-standing. As the leader of the largest party I think it is only fair and democratic that the council has the chance to vote.’
In response Cllr Steve Pitt nominated Cllr Vernon-Jackson as the new leader and Renew councillor John Ferrett nominiated Cllr Jones.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson received 21 votes, and Cllr Jones got 20.
The council is made up of 42 councillors.
Independent councillor Claire Udy claimed her vote for Cllr Vernon-Jackson was not counted as the democracy manager didn’t see her hand.
Councillors were not asked if anyone abstained.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson accepted the responsibility of the role which he filled for several years before Cllr Jones. He said: ‘I am very grateful for this vote of confidence.
‘We need to work cross-party to see how we can make the city better. We need more houses and more affordable homes.
‘I want to try to make sure we have cross-party groups working for the homeless.’
However, he revealed he would not hold the post for years to come due to his husband’s illness. He said: ‘This is my 15th year. Family has to come first.’
The result calls into question potential alliances between the Lib Dem and Labour party in the council.
Cllr Ferrett was surprised by the result. He said: ‘I am quite taken aback by what has happened. I think it would have been best for the city to re-elect Cllr Jones but the council will have to live with its decision.’