Portsmouth £1bn investment hopes rise

Portsmouth sunrise with the silhouette of the Spinnaker Tower''Picture: Paul Jacobs
Portsmouth sunrise with the silhouette of the Spinnaker Tower''Picture: Paul Jacobs
Margaret Thatcher is greeted by newsmen as she leaves her Chelsea home

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PORTSMOUTH’S hopes of securing £1bn of investment could be given a boost by new powers for the city council.

In partnership with Southampton, city leaders have been given the chance to bid for more money and freedom from the government.

They are hoping to reach a radical agreement where the council would keep any new business rates generated over the next 25 years.

This money could then be spent on projects such as a new road to support the regeneration of Tipner, a bridge to Port Solent and the planned Dunsbury Hill Farm development in Havant.

Yesterday deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and cities minister Greg Clark announced the two local authorities would be entered into the second round of ‘city deals’ negotiations, as reported in The News. If successful they will get new powers, such as the ability to earn back tax from the Treasury and set their own transport and skills budgets.

Officers estimate this could lead to around £2bn of investment between the two cities, as well as creating more than 16,000 new homes and 30,000 new jobs.

Lib Dem cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development Mike Hancock said it could provide a secure source of funding for the next 25 years.

He said: ‘It’s good news and now we have to put our bid together and try and convince them that the areas we are hoping to invest in are good and should be encouraged.

‘It could mean that we will keep the business rates on any new development that we bring in. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

‘We have a good track record of delivering things and getting them to ministers on time is good.

‘And the work we have done over the last three years will now pay dividends.’

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘This is increasingly important as job losses continue to threaten the area, with recent announcements at Ford in Southampton and continuing uncertainty around the naval base.’

The first wave saw deals struck with England’s eight largest cities and yesterday’s announcement was aimed at the next 14 largest cities and the next six with highest population growth between 2001 and 2010.