Snub as Portsmouth organisers of major D-Day commemorations refused government funding

ORGANISERS behind ambitious plans for D-Day 75 commemorations will fight on for funding after an £800,000 plea to government was rejected.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 9:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th October 2018, 7:35 am
D-Day veteran John Jenkins at the D-Day Story in Clarence Esplanade, Southsea. Picture: Vernon Nash (180413-003)

Whitehall has been accused of failing to back the city after a bid for cash from the Libor scandal bank fines fund was rejected.

Portsmouth City Council had put an application into the government for the cash to help it stage a stunning display honouring all those who fought in D-Day.

But The News has learned this bid has failed to impress in the corridors of power, stunting hopes of what the city can pull off to mark the 75th anniversary of the pivotal invasion.

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It comes as the council, supported by The News, seeks to ensure the city is given pride of place at next year's commemoration.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the city council, said the news of the funding failure was '˜an obvious blow' for Portsmouth.

He said: '˜Yet again it's been a government decision to not support Portsmouth.

'˜For D-Day 70 they refused to put any money in. Our application to be named as a UK military city has always been turned down.

'˜I don't know whether the government doesn't like the navy or the city but we always seem to lose out.'

D-Day took place on June 6, 1944. Military commanders planned the invasion at nearby Southwick House. Thousands of sailors and soldiers set sail from Portsmouth to join the assault.

Thousands of people from across the country visited the D-Day 70 commemorations in 2014.

Portsmouth is looking to stage another major event, running from June 5 to June 9 next year.

These would include events on Southsea Common, the sea front and in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The extra money the council was looking for would have come from the fund created following the Libor banking scandal.

Portsmouth D-Day veteran John Jenkins, who worked the ammunition at Gold Beach in Arromanches, has has hit out at the £800,000 snub.

'˜It's a big disappointment,' the 98-year-old said. 

'˜Portsmouth played a huge role in D-Day and for the 75th anniversary the city needs to be recognised.'

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the lack of government cash would mean the city would '˜have to get creative' in how it funds its ambitious commemoration programme.

'˜This won't stop us from having a commemoration, we will just have to be creative how we fund it,' said Cllr Vernon-Jackson.

'˜I hope that the government will think again and find some funding for the city.'

D-Day 70 commemorations won £270,329.62 of European Union funding.

The News understands that ministers within parliament are supportive of the city's efforts for D-Day.

Sources have also said that the Ministry of Defence is looking at options on how it can support Portsmouth commemorations with '˜assets'.

MPs from across Portsmouth and Gosport have also been lobbying for the city.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, has written to culture secretary Jeremy Wright, urging him to back the campaign.

In a letter to the Mr Wright, Mr Morgan said the inaction from the government was '˜inhibiting' the city's '˜ability to plan'.

He added: '˜We stand ready to deliver for the nation and honour the sacrifice of our greatest generation, but we need confirmation from the government.'