Over the last five years Liberal Democrats have fought tooth and nail to build an education system that gives all children and young people in Portsmouth the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
We have protected the schools budget from the Conservative axe, helped the most disadvantaged pupils through our £2.5 billion pupil premium and helped families with the costs of nurseries and childminders.
And faced with even more Tory resistance, we have given a free healthy school lunch to all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 to help them concentrate in lessons.
These Liberal Democrat policies have helped thousands of families and children in Portsmouth.
But they have all cost money. We have only been able to pay for them because we have got to grips with the economic mess Labour left us in.
Like the Conservatives we are committed to eliminating the deficit by 2017-18. But this is where the similarities end. We differ greatly on both how we first balance the books and then what we do after that.
The Tories will carry on cutting to 2020 and then run a budget surplus. They will do it without raising any taxes and must also pay for a £7 billion unfunded tax giveaway announced at their party conference.
As a result, the Conservatives would be forced to make much deeper cuts in unprotected departments than is necessary to balance the books - particular spending on education.
This would be a disaster for schools, nurseries and colleges, with George Osborne forced to tear lumps out of the Department for Education to stick to his austerity plans.
Official research shows that if the Conservatives were in power on their own they could be forced to cut the education budget by more than a quarter – or £13.3 billion a year – by 2020.
The impact of this on schools, nurseries and colleges would be devastating. More seriously, it would be disastrous for the families and children in Portsmouth who depend on these services.
The Department for Education would simply not have the money to protect the pupil premium, attract and retain good teachers, or to continue the Liberal Democrats’ free school meals policy.
But unlike the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting cradle to college spending.
The Tories might have given up on compassionate conservatism but the Liberal Democrats will not sign up to deep cuts in education or a deficit reduction strategy designed to protect the very richest in society.
Families in Portsmouth can trust the Liberal Democrats to support our children through properly funded schools, nurseries and colleges.
Portsmouth South candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Fratton candidate Dave Ashmore support Portsmouth charity clothes banks
'Charity starts at home' as the saying goes, but nothing could be further from this at Portsmouth City Council's meeting last night.
As Christmas approaches, Councillors from all parties gathered to consider plans to budget for running the city next year, but one miserly proposal from the Conservatives stood out from the many mean cuts. They ganged-up to cream-off charity cash!
Dotted around Portsmouth are charity clothes banks. Last year when City Councillors agreed to take over the running of the various clothes bank sites on Council-owned land, like pavements and car parks - a promise was made that charity causes would not be worse off.
That promise was broken when UKIP, Conservative and Labour Councillors voted together to take much-needed cash generated by the clothes banks from 'Hampshire & IoW Air Ambulance', 'Salvation Army', 'British Heart Foundation', children's charity 'Dreams Come True' and UK textiles redistribution charity 'TRAID'.
Lib Dem Councillors pleaded with them not to do this, but were ignored. Shockingly UKIPs Portsmouth [Nelson Ward] leader said:
"The less privileged are going to be collateral damage", adding, "my only option is to support this [joint UKIP/Tory/Labour] budget".
Today's Autumn Statement has Liberal Democrat policies at its core.
This Autumn Statement shows that Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society where everyone is given the opportunity to get on in life.
Liberal Democrat policy is at the core of the Autumn Statement. This is a plan which sticks to our strategy to deal with the deficit, enabling us to release funds for key Liberal Democrat priorities.
We have protected our world class health service by providing an extra £3.1bn across the UK for the NHS. This includes making £2bn additional funding available for NHS services in England for the next financial year 2015/2016.
This is so that the NHS has the money it needs to meet the challenges of an ageing population and increasing demand. It will also provide the funding the NHS needs to deliver the first year of Simon Steven's five year plan.
This Autumn Statement is packed full of policies that deliver Liberal Democrat priorities.
- Help for lower and middle income earners by increasing the Personal Tax Allowance to £10,600, giving basic rate tax payers a tax cut of £120.
- Help for people buying a home by cutting stamp duty for the majority of buyers. This will make it fairer, ensuring that 98 per cent of homebuyers pay the same or less stamp duty and delivering long standing Liberal Democrat policy from 2007. The stamp duty paid on the average house price will be £4,500 lower while those buying a property for £5m will pay £163,750.
- Help for apprentices by making it cheaper for employers to take on an apprentice by abolishing employer National Insurance Contributions for apprentices aged under 25 on earnings up to upper earning up to the upper earnings limit.
- Help for people with mental health problems by providing £150m over five years to transform the support provided to young people with eating disorders.
It is because there are Liberal Democrats in Government that we have an economic recovery and that this is Autumn Statement providing:
- Support for enterprise by boosting Vince Cable’s Business Bank by a further £400m.
- Support for businesses by extending the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief to April 2016, capping the increase in business rates at 2% and providing extra support for the high street by giving a £1,500 discount to retail properties.
- Support for postgraduates by providing loans for those under 30 wishing to undertake postgraduate taught study.
- Support to local economic growth by allocating a further £1bn for a second wave of growth deals to support local projects as part of their ambitious plans for growth.
- Support for housing by trialling a radical new delivery model at Northstowe, as announced by Danny Alexander; supporting a new garden city at Bicester; and extending the affordable housing investment so that over the next Parliament the government will deliver 275,000 affordable homes-more than in any equivalent period in the last 20 years.
And it because there are Liberal Democrats in Government that the recovery will be sustainable and that the repair job will be done fairly.
Along with 19 other people, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Portsmouth South, attended the newly formed Fratton Traders Association yesterday. Hosted by 'Sweet Memories Vinyl Records UK' owner Nick Courtney, the shopping area has also launched a facebook page, which is seeing support growing fast: https://www.facebook.com/frattontraders
During its first meeting the group discussed ways of improving Fratton Road shopping. Portsmouth City Council's Town Centre Manager, Barry Walker was also on-hand to lend his professional advice. Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson says:
"Local shops are important for local people and jobs, so it's great to see Fratton Road shops getting together like this. There were lots of good ideas and I was glad to be there; we must work to get the Council to listen to the traders - so it's also helpful there is a panel of councillors currently looking at ways to improve local shopping centres like Fratton."
Local Lib Dem Fratton Ward Councillor, David Fuller added: "It was a good meeting and we will work to help the best way we can."
Thanks to work by Traders Associations and others, retailing across Portsmouth is doing well with shop-occupancy rates at an average 97%, which is higher than the UK average.
One of six such clubs in the region, the 'Green Waste Club' was introduced by local Lib Dems here starting out with 2,500 customers. That number has risen to nearly 5,000 today.
Portsmouth's Victoria Park Summer Fair saw the Club in attendance at its stall manned by Biffa's Green Waste officer Stephen Hanby.
There was lots of local interest from the 6,000 at the event and new customers have been joining every day. Many, many 100s of tonnes of green waste have been re-used instead of incinerated.
The Club gives advice on different types of garden waste and how that can be handled by the Club and how gardeners can easily divert a lot of green materials from waste towards eventual reuse as compost.
Collecting green waste like this diverts it away from the city burner, which means the burner also operates much more efficiently therefore reducing carbon pollution. Just as importantly the green waste ends up back where it belongs - doing good in the earth. All this action is good for the environment and saves council taxpayers a lot of money.
The old Brook Youth Club in Sackville Street may soon have a new use. The active groups of Scouts, Guides and Air Cadets who currently use the Old Brewery in Hambrook Street will be moving in.
The building at Hambrook Street has had lots of problems over the years including the roof leaking badly. The Brook Club is vacant as the Youth Club has moved to new premises at the Somerstown Community Hub.
"This is a good new use for the Brook Club," says Lib Dem Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson. "This will mean that local youngsters in the heart of Somerstown have a local Scout group, a local Guides group and a local Air Cadet group. This will provide great new opportunities for youngsters to have something positive to do in the area."
Parliamentary candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson at the Kings Theatre
Constant lobbying and campaigning by Portsmouth South Parliamentary Candidate and Milton Ward City Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, backed by local Lib Dem Councillors and campaigners, has forced the Conservative/Labour/UKIP coalition running the Council to back down on huge cuts to cultural venues and cuts to vital modest grants. The announcement was made in The News recently when the paper reported upcoming city budget cuts.
Local Lib Dems received massive support from residents signing a huge citywide petition; however it wasn't all plain sailing as Tory hardliner in St. Jude Ward, who now runs city culture, mocked the petition set up by local Lib Dems and refused to back modest grants vital to winning ££millions more on top from Arts Council England, Lottery and many other funders.
The grants send the right message to funders considering investing their monies in Portsmouth's cultural, tourism and creative venues like Aspex Gallery, museums, the Guildhall, libraries, the Kings Theatre, New Theatre Royal and many others.
Councillor Lee Hunt (Central Southsea Ward) who helped lead the campaign and is the local Lib Dem spokesperson for Culture & Sport said:
"In the last few when the Lib Dems ran Portsmouth we levered over £8million into Portsmouth's creative and tourism industries helping push visitor numbers up to a record 9.25million, adding £444million (Tourism South East figs) to Portsmouth's economy supporting 12,500 jobs; so it is vital the Council leads by example. I am glad campaigners backed us to make the Tories see sense."
Remember, last time Labour proposed massive city south cultural cuts, which would also have destroyed the £4million D-Day Museum lottery bid recently won after three years of Lib Dem commitment to the project.
At a recent planning committee local Lib Dems opposed a proposal to change a family dwelling in Cleveland Road to a shared [House in Multiple Occupation].
Cllr Lee Hunt [Lib Dem Central Southsea Ward] pointed out to the 9-member planning panel that the area already has 40% of dwellings in shared-use lets. He said:
"With housing so expensive shared homes give people an affordable place to live and it's not only students, but young professionals and others who choose to share; however we need a sensible mix and right now the city south accepts more than its fair share".
The landlords' representative disagreed arguing 'there are so many, so there might as well be another'.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson [Lib Dem Milton Ward] sitting on the decision-making panel backed Cllr Hunt saying:
"There is a sensible policy brought in by the last Lib Dem Council restricting shared housing to 10% in an immediate locality and we should stick to this".
The panel unanimously agreed and threw out the proposal.
Councillor Lee Hunt
Tourism in Portsmouth continues to rise as a decade of Lib Dem city regeneration policies, in partnership with local creative and cultural industries, build year-on-year; up seven per cent last year, which saw a similar rise the year before.
The creative and cultural surge here is one of the reasons Portsmouth Lib Dems have launched their petition to protect modest grants for cultural venues, for example the Kings Theatre, New Theatre Royal and Aspex Gallery. Estimates by 'Tourism South East' show 9.25 million people made a trip to Portsmouth, pumping £444m into the local economy – up six per cent on 2012.
Around 12,400 jobs representing nearly 12% of all employment in the city are related to tourism, an increase of nearly six percent from the year before; yet the Labour/UKIP/Conservative coalition running Portsmouth are thinking of cutting vital modest grants and support, which give confidence to others to invest here and help lever £millions more into Portsmouth's ongoing exciting cultural and creative regeneration. Examples of this are the brilliant 'Victorious Festival' on The Common, improved Guildhall music venue, £100,000s from Arts Council England, £4million for D-Day Museum from the lottery and £2million for 'ARTches' cultural quarter in Old Portsmouth, plus £millions more from sports like the £1.6million citywide deal with British Tennis, Portsmouth 'Wiggle' Triathlon with Triathlon England and Ben Ainslie Racing coming here.
You can help keep the momentum going by signing our online petition here: http://www.change.org/p/portsmouth-culture
Reacting to growing pressure from public petitions, the Conservative-run Portsmouth City Council has put back the date when it will announce a budget by 4 weeks.
At a recent Council meeting the Conservative running Culture & Sport mocked petitions as a way to influence Council spending. However it looks like this one is having an impact - even though she refused to rule out grant cuts.
This petition is so important; protecting modest grants for cultural venues like, Kings Theatre, New Theatre Royal and Aspex Gallery because it keeps Portsmouth's creative and cultural surge growing.
Cultural and Creative Industries contributes to a huge rise to Portsmouth's tourism. Visits are UP 7% on last year and there was a similar rise the year before. Read the report in The News.
' Tourism South East' reports show 9.25 million people made a trip to Portsmouth last year to visit theatres, events, shows and museums; pumping £444m into the local economy – up six per cent on 2012.
Around 12,400 jobs representing nearly 12% of all employment in the city are related to tourism, an increase of nearly 6% from the year before; so we need to convince the Council not to cut vital modest grants and support, which give confidence to others to invest here. Examples are the Portsmouth Cultural Trust improved Guildhall music venue, £100,000s from Arts Council England for Aspex, New Theatre Royal and outreach work, £4million for D-Day Museum from the lottery, £2million lottery money for 'ARTches' cultural quarter in Old Portsmouth plus £millions more from national sports governing bodies like the £1.6million citywide deal with British Tennis and Portsmouth 'Wiggle' Triathlon.
Please forward this petition to friends, family and acquaintances asking them to sign and pass on again.
Councillor Les Stevens at the ARTches site
Portsmouth has been awarded £1.75 million to transform a historic monument into a creative hub, following a successful bid from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.
The funding means the currently empty historic arches will be converted into 13 artists’ studios. There is also a proposal for a brasserie and kiosk on site. The Round Tower will be used an exhibition space.
Over 100 jobs will be created as a result of the funding.
The area, known locally as the hotwalls, is located between the Square and Round Tower. In the 1850s the arches were called the Point Barracks and used as artillery barracks and soldiers’ quarters.
Local Lib Dem Councillor Les Stevens said,
“I am really pleased the money is being invested in the area, and we will see the hotwalls being given a new lease of life. It is excellent news that new jobs will be created too.”
Lib Dems and local residents want their parking zones reinstated
Hopes that those running Portsmouth City Council would listen to a huge petition from 2,000 local residents were dashed when UKIP, Conservative and Labour Councillors all joined together to out-vote local Lib Dems at the recent Full Council meeting. This vote was a repeat of an earlier sub-committee where UKIP, Labour and Conservatives again ganged-up to veto attempts to get the scheme's so-called 'suspension' reconsidered. As before, lots of local people watched from the gallery to see local residents, led by Chetwynd Road's Suzy Horton, present the petition to all the councillors and explain why local people were pleading for the MB and MC schemes to be reinstated.
Astonishingly when asked why other residents' parking schemes are not being 'suspended' as part of a proposal - "in due course" - for a citywide parking review, including schemes bordering our area, Cllr Ellcome (Cons Drayton & Farlington Ward) boasted with a wry grin: "I may be brave, but I am not suicidal". Residents and local Lib Dem councillors tried to reason explaining that MC and MB parking zones were working better than nearly all other schemes across the city, with a greater uptake of permits than most places and costing less.
Lib Dem campaigner Suzy Horton backs the bid for additional money for Goldsmith Infant School and Brambles Nursery
When the Lib Dems were running the City, they allocated £1.2 million to Goldsmith Infant School and Brambles Nursery to meet the increasing need for more school and nursery places.
This money, plus some from the Government, and a contribution from the school, created a total of £1.5 million for improvements. However, professionals calculate another £209,000 is now needed to make up a shortfall in monies for the planned works.
Local Lib Dems have backed the bid for this additional £209,000 to complete the redevelopment of Goldsmith Infant School and Brambles Nursery.
In its last two reports, Ofsted rated Goldsmith Infants School and Brambles Nursery as 'Good' thanks to the hardworking staff and leadership of long-serving teacher and headmistress Mrs Alison Spittles, who sadly passed away recently.
Local Lib Dem campaigner Suzy Horton, a former primary school teacher, says:
"Good schools and decent classrooms with room to learn and play are vital to help educate children, so we're backing the bid."
Local Lib Dems outside the proposed venue
Hundreds of local residents joined with local Lib Dems to fight plans for a lap-dancing club in the old Conservative Club in Albert Road.
Tory Deputy Leader of the City Council told 'The News' it was all, "frankly quite funny". Planning councillors agreed with Lib Dem Cllr Lee Hunt that it was not funny at all and unanimously rejected the plans.
The applicant says he will appeal to Bristol-based Government Planning Inspectors to overturn the decision.
Local campaigner and school governor Suzy Horton said:
“Many local families and school children live in the area. It just isn’t appropriate for this sort of establishment to be here.”
Kingston Recreation Ground
The Kingston Recreation Ground (known locally as the 'Rec') is a place in the community that provides enjoyment for children and their parents, as well as dog walkers, cyclists and those who play sports.
Fratton resident and Lib Dem campaigner David Ashmore, who uses the Rec regularly with his young children, has spoken to others who use the area. They have mentioned their concerns over road safety there, in particular the bend of Clarkes Road near an entrance.
"It's a blind spot and if children are waiting to cross the road to the park and a car comes around the bend too fast, an accident could easily occur. People have been asking if maybe a traffic calming measure would be useful there."
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