Portsmouth City Council – a week in review by our democracy reporter

gvs taken by Csar Moreno Huerta''Picture: Csar Moreno Huerta
gvs taken by Csar Moreno Huerta''Picture: Csar Moreno Huerta

DESPITE the season of peace and goodwill that is now upon us it is clear that some Portsmouth councillors will never see eye to eye.

This week saw an amendment narrowly voted down that would've drastically altered the running of Portsmouth City Council.

Tory changes to the Lib Dem administration’s proposed budget savings for next year would have seen local elections held once every four years, the reinstating of council-owned Victory Energy and a complete city-wide review of parking zones, among other plans.

Former leader of the council and Tory boss, Councillor Donna Jones, was confident the amendment would both meet the council’s need to save £4m in the coming year and address important issues faced by Portsmouth residents.

Speaking at the meeting she said: ‘We know the government’s revenue support grant is disappearing, therefore we must ensure we are a forward-thinking council with a proactive and ambitious appetite for income-generating business growth and to fulfil the promise we made to the people of Portsmouth when we became the administration.’

But a vote on the amendment saw the Tories lose out, with 17 in favour and 18 against.

Somehow I doubt this is the last we hear of Victory Energy or of parking zones.

READ MORE: Tories’ bid to change Portsmouth council budget plans fall through

There was also animosity felt from Portsmouth residents at Tuesday's full council.

Members of Portsmouth Unison and the Unite Portsmouth community group attended the meeting to both make and support deputations against the proposed budget for the next financial year.

A steward for Portsmouth Unison, Alan Tier, said: 'We are concerned about the closure of care homes Edinburgh House and Hilsea Lodge.

'There is talk about a new home but there are no solid plans. And in the meantime the residents will have to go private. We are concerned about what happens in the meantime and how it will affect residents, their families and the staff.'

Alan Burgess made a deputation at the meeting on behalf of the Portsmouth Unite group. 'We are disgusted by the levels of poverty that are rife in Portsmouth,' he said.

'I am a resident of Charles Dickens ward where there are horrendous levels of child poverty. They are already being impacted by Universal Credit and as a result they require more support from local services.

'I want the council to recognise its risky investment in retail parks around the country, these are not helping the people of Portsmouth. That money should be spent on people in the city.'

READ MORE: Fears for care homes and Universal Credit raised by protest groups

However, councillors were united when approving an application that will see an Edwardian beach shelter, dating back to 1902, installed on the Eastney seafront.

The shelter originally stood further along the promenade, in Southsea. However, with the construction of the Pyramids centre in the 1980s it was dismantled and put into storage where it fell into disrepair.

A community project led by South Parade Trust chairman, Leon Reis, gained sponsors and volunteers with the aim of getting the shelter back in use.

For Mr Reis, the planning permission came as a result of many years’ hard work. ‘It will be a great thing and a great community success story,’ he said.

‘A lot of people should be proud of themselves for doing their part.

‘It’s been a long-running project that we started about eight or nine years ago. To get planning permission so that the next stage can happen is brilliant.’

READ MORE: Why a historic beach shelter will return to Portsmouth’s seafront

In other historical Portsmouth news it was revealed that fortifications from the 17th century will be lost with the construction of the University of Portsmouth's new £53m Ravelin Park leisure facility.

While digging up the car park last month the foundations of defences, were unearthed.

A university spokesperson said:  ‘We were aware that these walls were on the site and instructed AOC Archaeology to record the site during groundworks for the new building to satisfy planning conditions and record the archaeological remains.

‘A report will follow, a copy of which will go to the university, and after the end of the project, archaeological reports are sent to the local studies library, and eventually are available online.'

The university confirmed that the defences will either be removed, with no plans to display them, or built over if they are lower than the site’s new foundation works.

READ MORE: Historic fortifications found under site of new £53m sports centre