PORTSMOUTH’S Tory and Labour councillors have united in their calls for MP Mike Hancock to be suspended from the city council cabinet.
Councillors on Saturday petitioned in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, for Lib Dem council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson to stand down – despite his vote against Cllr Hancock staying in the cabinet at a meeting.
Lib Dem city councillor Eleanor Scott resigned her environment and community brief in protest at her group’s decision and at the culture of the council.
Councillor Aidan Grey, deputy leader of Portsmouth Labour Party, said: ‘Nick Clegg has clearly stated about the disgrace and the damning details they have seen, [Mike Hancock] is suspended from the party nationally and locally.
‘It’s coming from the top. It seems very strange and at odds to me why the local party group would go against that. It all just seems to have been a kneejerk reaction and can be perceived, certainly by the public, as some sort of cover-up.’
Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy leader of the Conservative party in Portsmouth, said: ‘Mike Hancock is sufficiently compromised that he is unable to do his job. The cabinet role is an important one. He is responsible for getting the Northern Quarter built, for the regeneration of Tipner and Horsea Island. We need someone who can focus on that who doesn’t have to spend all his time fighting these scandals.’
Cllr John Ferrett, the city’s Labour group leader, said: ‘We have come together as Labour and Conservatives. Even though we have got big political differences we are united in this because we think it is not just a scandal in terms of the cover-up of the complaint against Mike Hancock, but a scandal in terms of the public money that has been spent.’