History of Southsea Town Council

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John Challoner

Southsea Town Council Was Abolished On St George's Day 2010

Extract from The News on March 24, 2010 - See story here

"Portsmouth City Council agreed to axe it after a postal ballot found 66 per cent of Southsea residents who voted were in favour of seeing it scrapped.

It was the third ballot over the future of the controversial council, which was set up more than a decade ago. The government overruled the previous poll, saying there was not overwhelming support for the council to be wound up. But this time, in a 24 per cent turnout, 1,148 residents wanted the council to continue to exist while 2,243 wanted it abolished.

And a change in the law means the Lib Dem-run city council now has the power to abolish the town council.It marks the end of a long battle for Conservative town councillors who fought for the council to survive.

Former town councillor Hilary Collins said: 'The Liberal Democrats may be feeling smug that they have won. 'But they will never remove the passion people felt when they were working to enhance the lives of the people in the area. 'The town council gave the people of Southsea a voice.'"

The problem it seems, was the relevance of the town council for the majority of the Southsea community. While one third of residents supported the activities of the council especially its endeavours to improve the local public realm landscape for example with street benches, over two thirds of residents were perhaps not impressed that the additional monies they were paying on top of the city's council tax were providing discernable value for money.

"The town council was set up in 1999 by residents who wanted a body to lobby the city council on local issues and protect the local area. The idea was initially supported by both Tories and Lib Dems, although the Labour-led city council was not in favour.

The council charged a precept of between 10 and 20 a year, which Southsea residents paid on top of Portsmouth council tax. In return the town council had offices in Clarendon Road which were open to the public, and paid for community schemes. But the Lib Dems soon changed their stance on the town council and declared it was a waste of cash. When they won control in 2007 weren’t content to implement minor cost cutting measures like removing water coolers from their various offices, they actually sold the offices, scrapped the precept and gave away the council's money!

Lib Dem city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'The people of Southsea have said they do not want the town council. 'I think it is right that we listen to them.'

All Lib Dem city councillors voted in favour of abolishing the council, as well as Tory councillor Luke Stubbs. The rest of the Conservative group refused to vote. Southsea Town Council was finally abolished for good on April 23, 2010 - St George's Day."