Portsmouth City Council review of the week: Sparks still flying over Victory Energy, Kingston Prison and care homes

THEY think it's all over'¦it's still not.

Friday, 23rd November 2018, 3:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 4:51 pm
271 homes could be built on the site of Kingston Prison in Baffins

The epic saga that is council-owned Victory Energy refuses to come to an end, with another report concluding it was perhaps more viable than the Lib Dems had believed.

The most recent predicted figures for Victory Energy, which was scrapped in July, showed the company has the potential to bring in £22m to Portsmouth City Council after five years, almost 10 times the previous estimation of £2.5m.

So what does this mean?

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Following a call-in by Tory and Labour councillors in September the Lib Dems pledged to look again at the viability of the company, which they will discuss at a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 27.

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New findings on Victory Energy could change its fate

For former council leader and Victory Energy's founder, Cllr Donna Jones, the statistics were conclusive. '˜The updated report makes it crystal clear that Victory Energy is a very investible business,' she said.

'˜It makes it clear to anyone reading and understanding the business case that Portsmouth City Council and the Lib Dem administration would be mad not to continue this energy company that is set to make millions of pounds profit for Portsmouth residents.

'˜That is the exact reason I created it in the first place.'

Cllr Jones, along with members of other parties, will make deputations at cabinet on Tuesday so expect sparks to fly.

Another on-going struggle at Portsmouth City Council has been how to solve a problem like Kingston Prison.

City and Country hope their latest application for the Grade-II listed building in Baffins will do just that, with additional flats and the promise of affordable housing thrown in for good measure.

If the plans are approved 76 converted dwellings and a further 195 new builds be constructed on the site.

Previously councillors had griped that none of the homes would be affordable but this time around Richard Winsborough, from City and Country, assured them things would be different with 187 affordable homes anticipated.

'˜City and Country has been working positively and proactively with Portsmouth City Council to help bring forward this important listed building for development,' he said.

'˜We are delighted to also confirm that we are working with Vivid Homes, Hampshire's largest provider of affordable housing, who will deliver most of the new build element of the site as affordable homes.'

In other housing news, it was agreed this week that two Portsmouth care homes will be demolished to make way for new dementia apartments.

On Tuesday (Nov 20) Portsmouth City Councli's head of health, Cllr Matthew Winnington, agreed that Hilsea Lodge on Gatcombe Drive and Edinburgh House in Cosham will be knocked down, with 50 new homes planned on the site of the latter.

The £9.75m scheme for Edinburgh House, that is set to close in October 2019, will also provide on-site facilities such as a shop, restaurant and hair salon to encourage the independence of its residents.

It was also decided that Hilsea Lodge on Gatcombe Drive will shut the following year, although plans for the site are not finalised.

Residents of both homes will have to find somewhere else to live when the work begins.

But some were not convinced this was the best way forward, with two deputeees and six written deputations making appearances at the health, wellbeing and social care meeting on Tuesday.

Susan Harvey, whose father currently lives in Hilsea Lodge, said: '˜All of the residents in this home have already exhausted all other options of care, we've all looked after our loved ones at home for as long as we can.

'˜There isn't any other choice and the decision to put your loved one in a residential home is never taken lightly.'

Work on Edinburgh House will begin next year.

And for those foodies in Portsmouth they will now be even more spoilt for choice with a new bar and restaurant set to open in Gunwharf Quays.

The application for a Cosy Club had come under fire from local residents who objected to what they feared could be another nightclub similar to Tiger Tiger.

But at a licensing meeting on Wednesday (Nov 21) councillors ruled it would not lead to more noise and anti-social behaviour in the area and approved the opening hours and alcohol licence for the venue which will occupy the former site of the Water Margin opposite Spinnaker Tower.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Loungers Ltd, agent Peter Rosser gave councillors an ultimatum. He said: '˜The site is currently sitting there empty. The alternative is it remaining closed or having another operator moving in who may not have our same view on music and noise.'

Work will begin on the site before Christmas.