Political groups clash as Portsmouth's budget is set for 2020

POLITICAL groups of all colours clashed over the best way to save and spend council money in the next year during a heated debate.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 3:10 pm
Portsmouth City Council has set its budget for 2020. Picture: César Moreno Huerta

Several amendments to the Liberal Democrat administration's proposed 2020 budget were put forward at full council on Tuesday but failed to get backing.

While Tory, Labour and Progressive Portsmouth People (PPP) members agreed that climate change and social care should be among the top priorities, concerns were raised over how some funds were being found and spent.

A 3.99 per cent hike in council tax was approved - not including police and fire service precepts - with two per cent ring-fenced for adult social care.

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Within the Lib Dem budget a total of £37m capital cash was allocated to tackling climate change with measures including wind turbines, additional electric car charging points and expanding the park and ride.

Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'This budget is ambitious, prudent and green and builds on our record of financial common sense.'

However, Tory leader Cllr Donna Jones condemned the expansion of the park and ride.

When setting out her amendments she said: ‘We will also stop the spending of £500,000 on a business case for an extension to the park and ride.

‘This is a gross waste of public money and will be outdated by the time this council ever had the kind of spare money to invest in this.

‘Less cars, not more - that’s what this could should be doing and spending half a million on this pipe dream is almost criminal.’

She also slammed the proposed allocation of £1.7m to the Guildhall Trust, resolved to scrap the £30 charge for first car permits and pledged cash for a house in multiple occupancy (HMO) database after branding the current one 'not fit for purpose.'

Labour members proposed a series of savings including reducing management, moving to elections once every four years, instead of the current model spread across three years, and reducing the number of cabinet members from 10 to six.

Group leader Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, added: 'Our amendments take strides to reduce the cost of democracy, reduce corporate hospitality and management overheads.'

But no amendments to the revenue or capital budgets, which were put forward by the Tories, Labour and PPP were carried as they failed to win enough votes from councillors.

The approved budget detailed that Portsmouth City Council will have to make savings of £2.5m within its revenue funds over the next year.