Pompey Power might work if done for the right reasons

There is no doubt about it, if local government as we currently recognise it is to survive it needs to diversify.

In these continuing austerity years councils must identify new ways of making money to counter the billions it has lost from central government since the crash of 2008.

But there will be those reading our story on Page 7 today who can be forgiven for shaking their heads in disbelief.

Can it really be true that Portsmouth City Council is considering becoming an energy company, helping supply the gas and electricity vital to all our lives? And not just in Portsmouth, but Fareham, Gosport and Havant too.

Yes, and it is not alone among councils. Bristol, Nottingham and London are all going down that route.

We have a right to be sceptical, especially when a council starts taking on the private sector and especially, in this case, the big six energy companies.

Remember when the city council was outwitted by the private sector over the deal to build The Spinnaker Tower? Council tax payers were saddled with an enormous bill they should never have had to pay.

On the other hand the authority-owned international port has been a roaring success and kept down council tax bills in the city for years.

However, this is a scheme worth exploring if, and it’s a big ‘if’ it’s done with the right motives.

Why shouldn’t a council supply power at competitive prices and not have to distribute profits to private shareholders?

By targeting those on low incomes they can help tackle the problem of fuel poverty.

With the big energy companies so widely distrusted, we believe the local authority ‘brand’ can encourage otherwise reluctant low-income households to switch suppliers and save money.

Profits should then be ploughed back into the underfunded services it has a duty to provide.