Clark praises Portsmouth’s growth, despite budget cuts

Local government secretary Greg Clark has praised Portsmouth’s growth, despite suffering cuts to its council’s funding pot.

In an interview with The News, Clark maintained that ‘the city has been making good progress’ and should continue to perform, even in light of continued austerity measures.

Clark said: “What’s excellent for this city is that by the end of this parliament, we are working to enable it to retain 100 per cent of business rates and that money can be kept and used locally. There is a lot of ambition. Having a five-star hotel in the city would be key and it’s long overdue.”

He added: “Things are on the move in Portsmouth. The profile and status of the city is much higher than it has been for many years. What we’re trying to do with the City Deal and devolution is enable
Portsmouth to be part of a ‘southern powerhouse’.”

However, critics have warned that the government’s attempt to push the extension of the Right-to-Buy scheme and reduce councils’ budgets will leave city families worse off.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, argued: “Over the past 10 to 15 years, the city has prospered and the economy of the city has grown. But we have had big economic shocks – like the loss of shipbuilding and 1,000 engineering jobs. My concern is the things Mr Clark is doing will mean Portsmouth families who can’t afford to buy council homes will not be able to find anywhere decent to live.”