CASH should be invested into Portsmouth by its council rather than spent in other towns, the national Liberal Democrat leader has said.
On a visit to the city yesterday Sir Vince Cable criticised Tory decisions to spend more than £100 million on commercial projects outside of Portsmouth.
He claimed that money borrowed by Portsmouth City Council’s current Conservative administration would be better used regenerating run-down areas and creating new homes.
The council’s property portfolio is made up of 11 commercial sites that were bought with the intent of generating reliable income. One of these is based in Portsmouth.
To launch the Portsmouth Lib Dem manifesto Sir Vince visited Tipner, an area his party has pledged to regenerate. He said: ‘What you have here is a large amount of derelict land. The council could be borrowing money to build to provide more affordable housing here.
‘Instead the Conservative-led council is borrowing to invest in commercial property in very large volumes in other parts of the country. The Lib Dems want to see investment in Portsmouth generating homes and returns for the local people.’
Lib Dem councillor Lynne Stagg, former mayor of the city, agreed. She said: ‘On the one hand people want houses and on the other hand they want open spaces. It’s about getting that balance right. We’d like something in Tipner like Gunwharf Quays with a mixture of homes, businesses and retail.’
The manifesto, which was launched last week, vowed to tackle issues that are also a concern nationwide such as homelessness, crime and protecting the environment.
Sir Vince added: ‘Housing is an appalling problem. The price of new housing and rental accommodation is completely out of line with people’s incomes. The only way to deal with it is to massively increase the supply of affordable housing.’
He was also hopeful the party could gain the three seats needed for a majority in May’s election. ‘I think there’s an excellent chance of the Lib Dems coming back here. We’re not assuming it.
‘There’s going to be a lot of hard work in the next month but they have a good track record. There’s everything to play for,’ he said.