Top councillor says she feels like a ‘financial prostitute’

Councillor Linda Symes
Councillor Linda Symes
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PORTSMOUTH’S culture boss has admitted she feels like a ‘financial prostitute’ as she continues her efforts to secure cash to preserve the city’s top free attractions.

Councillor Linda Symes made the revelation yesterday following the latest success of the free music gig at Southsea Bandstand over the weekend.

I feel like a financial prostitute constantly going around the council trying to find money to do things for this city.

Councillor Linda Symes

Thousands of revellers flocked to the Castle Field to watch Rhythm of the 90s perform at the event, which is funded by Portsmouth City Council.

Cllr Symes hailed the day a ‘stunning success’ but said the battle to secure funds for such free spectacles was always a challenge – one she remained determined to tackling.

Speaking to The News, the culture, leisure and sport chief said: ‘I feel like a financial prostitute constantly going around the council trying to find money to do things for this city.

‘But we have managed to keep all of our museums and libraries open and we pay for free events for people.’

Last year, Cllr Symes secured £230,000 after the council terminated a maintenance contract. This cash was pumped into protecting library services.

Cllr Symes’ comments came as she revealed the latest ploy in the city’s on-going war on litter.

Bosses at Victorious Festival – Portsmouth’s premier music gig – donated £4,000 to the council to pay for free new water fountains along Southsea’s seafront.

It’s hoped the new facilities – the first of which will open at Southsea’ children’s splash pool later this month – will cut the number of plastic bottles being dumped on the Common and beach.

Cllr Symes said the fountains would help families, fitness fanatics and visitors stay hydrated during the summer months.

‘We do have to do something about the rising levels of litter in the city,’ she said. ‘It’s prolific. It’s disgusting.

‘If people are only using one bottle at a time they’re not going to be using 10. It’s also saving money.’

The news has been welcomed by Southsea businessmen Andrew Gadsden and Tony Wood who set up Portsmouth’s Your Bottle scheme.

It aims to encourage businesses to provide water refill stations in a bid to cut the number of single-use plastic bottles being bought and dumped.

Mr Gadsden, who owns All About Tea, said: ‘This really is an absolutely fantastic idea.’

The first new fountain will open later this month. A second is also planned to open further in the seafront, along Eastney Esplanade.

Victorious donated £3,959 towards the fountains.