The city’s Labour leader, Cllr Stephen Morgan (Charles Dickens ward) spoke up passionately for Portsmouth at this week’s full council meeting.
Debating the council’s proposed council tax increase, revenue and capital budgets, he made it clear that Labour wants to see more done to improve the city for all who live here.
“I believe with every bone in my body that Portsmouth City Council can make things better. We can make a material difference through the services we provide, but just as importantly through the leadership we give to the rest of our society.”
He then put forward an amendment from the Labour Group, and a response to the budgets before Full Council for decision, to encourage safeguarding and creation of jobs, reorganising and reforming the way the council works, and protecting frontline services in social care.
Other priorities for Labour in Portsmouth include investment in roads, pavements, schools and the city centre; increasing recycling rates; building homes for local people; working to prevent homelessness; and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Morgan pointed out that “the government’s funding distribution continues to penalise Portsmouth, and that as far as the government is concerned we are on our own.”
He established that the Labour budget amendment would cut the cost of democracy by streamlining the structures of the council; reducing management overheads by investing in technology, buying more smartly, and lowering the number of council managers; and investing in social care at a time when services are in crisis.
Cllr Morgan noted that these suggestions were informed by feedback received from residents, voluntary groups and trade unions.
He said, “I want local people to have a much greater say on what services this council provides to them, and on how we provide them.”
Businesses and jobs were another key theme of the Labour Group speech, as he spoke about the desire to help local business grow and prosper, create more training and apprenticeship opportunities, and reduce unemployment while ensuring that work always pays fairly.
On social care, Cllr Morgan stated that Labour would support the proposed increase in council tax to cover some of the government’s cuts to the social care budget. But he noted that the Liberal Democrats had ignored Labour’s calls to increase council tax during their time running the council.
Cllr Morgan pointed out that they “chose short term political gain over sustainable investment in the city’s future. If they had made that decision, the city would now have an extra £6m per annum to spend on vital services.”
In conclusion, Cllr Morgan noted that “this council’s budget should be about real people, their day-to-day lives and their future.” He said:
“There is hope. Things can be better.
And everyone in this city should know my group is doing everything it can to help people get through the difficult times, and ensure we have the foundations we need to build a fairer future.
It is not easy, it is not comfortable, but it is vital if we are to achieve a fairer and more just city.
We are on the side of the people of Portsmouth. This budget amendment is a step along this journey.”