Portsmouth City Council set for minority rule

Gerald Vernon Jackson
Gerald Vernon Jackson
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CITY council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson says he will not stand in the way of political opponents wanting to unite to run the council.

It comes after the ruling Lib Dems, led by Cllr Vernon-Jackson, lost four seats at the local elections, meaning they now have 19 and no longer have an overall majority.

While the Lib Dems could still run the council under a minority administration, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said it was important the council leadership had a majority, and he wouldn’t block the Tories, Ukip and Labour joining up.

It comes after Cllr Vernon-Jackson told The News he wants to be the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South at the general election next year.

He said: ‘There needs to be a stable administration.

‘We no longer have a majority, therefore a majority could be produced by other people working together.

‘If other people come up with a stable administration that does not include us, then we wouldn’t oppose it.

‘We don’t have a majority and it’s right that we respect the views of the people.’

A majority can only be achieved if the opposition parties formed a coalition, as their combined number of seats is 22, or if any agreed to link up with the Lib Dems.

Cllr Eleanor Scott, independent, is not affiliated with any group locally despite being a Lib Dem member. But Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the Conservative group, said talk of a coalition with Ukip and Labour was now ‘off the table’ as they weren’t interested.

Instead, she wants to run the council under a minority Conservative administration.

That would still require the support of Ukip and Labour to install her cabinet.

She said her group had no interest in forming an alliance with the Lib Dems.

‘Coalitions are off the table, no-one wants to do business with anyone else,’ she said.

‘We would have liked to do something with the others.

‘But there is still the idea of a Conservative administration being put forward.

‘We would have quite liked a coalition with the Labour group, I think (its leader) John Ferrett is a practical man.’

Ukip says it has no interest in coalitions, especially with the Tories, as it would be ‘selling out’. Labour insists it will refuse to enter anything especially involving Ukip.

Cllr Ferrett said: ‘If the Lib Dems or the Conservatives want to run the city as a minority administration then we wouldn’t block them.’