Political row breaks out over signs

TAKEN DOWN These political signs have caused a row among councillors
TAKEN DOWN These political signs have caused a row among councillors

Plans to turn former Portsmouth GP practice into flats approved

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A ROW has erupted over political signs that emerged on council land promoting a general election candidate.

A row of orange diamond-shaped Liberal Democrat placards backing Gerald Vernon-Jackson was put up around the site of the former Pitt Street baths in Portsmouth over the weekend.

If someone has a council flat, they can put a poster up, so it’s no different to that.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South

But Tory planning boss Luke Stubbs took issue with the signs as they were on council land and permission was not given – and alerted officers who then arranged for them to be taken down.

It comes after Lib Dem activists arranged for party signs to be put up around the city as the election campaign gets under way.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘No local authority would allow political signs to be placed on its land, they had to be removed.

‘I don’t know if the Gerald Vernon-Jackson campaign was responsible for this, but whoever was decided to take a real liberty in doing so.

‘I am glad council officers have taken action and the signs are no longer there.

‘The council will have to consider whether any further action is required.’

Councillor Vernon-Jackson, who is hoping to clinch Portsmouth South for the Lib Dems on May 7, insists he had nothing to do with the signs on the council property, and said they were put up by a supporter with a lease on the land.

But he blasted the Tories’ stance as a form of ‘political bullying’ and said it was no different to when council tenants put up party signs in their windows.

‘We have got lots of people who have put up posters around the city,’ he said.

‘This is no different in the same way someone has a council property.

‘If someone has a council flat, they can put a poster up, so it’s no different to that. I agreed with David Williams (the council’s chief executive) the signs would be taken down.’ Cllr Stubbs added: ‘Councillors of all parties complain about fly posting so it’s a bit much when they then do it themselves.’