We need to give Portsmouth the council it deserves, says city MP Penny Mordaunt

The Civic Offices in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth
The Civic Offices in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth

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MP Penny Mordaunt has pleaded with the city council’s new administration – restore people’s pride in where they live.

The Tory has used her Off The Fence column in today’s The News to criticise the previous council administration and called on the ruling Conservative group to drive the city forward to a better future.

She wrote: ‘Local ambition has been stifled, local businesses have not been supported [and] community groups and the public have been bullied and harassed.’

The Portsmouth North MP added the public want in future ‘the good of the city and its institutions’ being put before political careers.

It comes after Ms Mordaunt received a ‘thick’ file of complaints from council officers, charities and other organisations about the abusive and degrading behaviour of councillors.

‘We need to give the city the local government it deserves,’ Ms Mordaunt told The News. ‘We have got some great councillors but politicians need to realise the dismay that local people feel towards their local authority.’

Ms Mordaunt said Hilsea Lido Pool for the People Trust, which runs Hilsea Lido, had especially suffered poor treatment from the council.

She believes Mike Hancock’s reputation was put before vulnerable adults as no safeguards were put in place to prevent him having contact with them while under investigation over his conduct.

The disgraced politician apologised last week for forging an inappropriate friendship with a female constituent – despite repeatedly stating his innocence since the claims came to light in 2010.

And Ms Mordaunt renewed calls for an investigation to be held into a culture of bullying at the council and said there must be a clear plan of action to restore public confidence.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib-Dem leader, called on Ms Mordaunt to be more specific about her allegations and said he is still awaiting a reply to a letter he sent her over the issues six weeks ago.

‘How can you investigate something if people aren’t prepared to give evidence?’ he said.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson also said that while council leader, he was advised he wouldn’t need to do anything to prevent contact between Mr Hancock and vulnerable adults since he wouldn’t have had any under his former cabinet role for planning and regeneration.

Cllr Donna Jones, council leader, said: ‘I have spoken about having an open and transparent agenda.

‘It’s imperative that anyone who volunteers in the city and gives their time for nothing to help others, particularly the most vulnerable in society, are treated with the utmost respect and given the assistance they need.’