LS Blog Article

Published on Friday, 18th October 2019

 

One of the last things Linda Symes and I did before losing the council in 2018 was to approve the installation of six water refill stations along the seafront. They were then installed in July that year, but have barely worked since.

 

The debate in council on a motion we put down on this was disgraceful, as was the reporting in the ‘News’. The fact is, there are 20,000 of these fountains across the country and they are standard products. Despite claims to the contrary, most of them are not working as of this morning and they have visibly had no maintenance for ages. The council leader admitted that he wasn’t even aware of them, before claiming to have been worried about the water loss for ages, while his deputy said they are awful, before saying he wants to install another one.

 

Water refill stations are a way of reducing the use of single use plastics. They are in widespread use across the country, but Portsmouth cannot get them to work and cannot signpost them. That failing should be addressed. I suppose the politics is par for the course, but that a once proud newspaper reported this rubbish as fact is sad.

Tags: Seafront

Published on Friday, 18th October 2019

 

Securing £3.5m as a five year sponsorship deal for the Spinnaker Tower was a triumph for the previous Conservative administration. Getting the money was hard work and then council leader, Donna Jones, did a great deal of work to get it over the line. I was there throughout and know what a close run thing it all was.

 

That deal expires next June. We asked about what the council is going to do now. What sticks in the craw is that the same Cabinet member who now wants a painted tower said at the time that ‘The Tories know the price of everything and value of nothing’ and that the tower must stay white no matter what the cost. Still from a taxpayer point of view, this U-turn is welcome.

Tags: Spinnaker

Published on Friday, 18th October 2019

 

While we won’t know for sure until December just how much government money local authorities will receive next year, Whitehall’s consultation document gives the game away.

 

The proposal is for most grants to remain the same in real terms, but with a big increase in funding for social care, worth £5.4m for Portsmouth (or around 7% of spending in real terms). On top of that, councils will again be allowed to charge an extra 2% on council tax for social care, as well as a regular 2% increase.

 

This represents by far the most generous government settlement in a decade. In two of the four years when I did a lot of work on the council’s budget, we had to shrink total spending by over 10% in a single year.

 

The key thing now is that this money is not wasted and that taxes aren’t raised unnecessarily.

Tags: Budget

Published on Wednesday, 26th June 2019

The council’s Cabinet is expected to push through a huge expansion of residents’ zones in Southsea, bringing the controlled zones as far as Waverley Road. 

 

The public consultation response has been quite negative, with concerns from people inside the planned zone about having only a two hour restriction and from those outside about the inevitable tidal wave of displacement. Meanwhile businesses are worried about how they will survive when the public no longer has access to any parking between 1630 and 1830 daily.

 

The Cabinet has repeatedly ignored calls for a joined up approach and has rolled out one scheme after another, many in response to displacement problems created by their previous schemes. The chances are Monday will see more of the same.

 

Both the Conservatives and Labour have been calling for an overall plan to be drawn up. I will be making that point again at the meeting.

 

The parking report is at here . For details of how to make a deputation, see here

 

Tags: Parking

 

Published on Thursday, 28th March 2019

A planning application has been submitted for 134 flats and houses at the old MOD site at Fraser Range. The application has yet to be processed by the council and the documents are not yet online, however, I am told that the proposals are very much in line with the draft scheme presented to the public a year ago. That involved the conversion of the two largest buildings into flats, along with some new houses on the western part of the site. You can see the 2018 consultation scheme at www.fraserrange.co.uk

 

There are concerns about the ecological impact a development here could have, along with the usual worries about infrastructure. The council’s failure to maintain a five-year land supply may have some effect here and it could make it easier to argue for a higher density scheme; the environmental constraints will be largely unaffected.

 

Tags: Parking

Published on Wednesday, 26th June 2019

Coming into the city along the motorway, one of the things that now stands out is the new student tower currently under construction on the site of the old Coop bank near the railway station. There’s still a way to go until it is finished, but already its front and sides are a mass of windows; the north side however appears to be a huge, blank wall.

 

The supporting documents for the planning application referred to the possible future redevelopment of much of that line of buildings. Were there plans for another large building next door then it would make perfect sense not to include lots of windows.

 

I wasn’t involved in deciding the application, but I did speak to one of the promoters of the scheme at the time and asked what plans there were for further developments; I was told that there were none and it was just conceptual. I am not so sure and suspect further proposals will come forward in the long run.

 

Anyway, back to the blank wall. The planning paperwork shows a few windows on that side. From their positioning, I think they may be only for the staircase. There will be cladding and some decorative lines to break the whole thing up.

 

Tags: Planning

Published on Thursday, 28th March 2019

The number of responses to the traffic regulation order consultation for the area around the Kings Theatre has been very high and is in stark contrast to the feeble response to the informal survey. 

 

The procedure when introducing residents' parking is to first ask people whether they want a scheme - and just 14% of households responded to that, which is about half the historic rate. This is then followed by the statutory legal consultation and it is that which has elicited a big response. 

 

At this point, we don’t know what people have said, but it may well include people asking for a 24-hour scheme, objections from shops and people wanting a nighttime scheme to limit theatre parking. Officers are sorting through everything with a view to a decision being made in June or July.

 

Tags: Parking