Arundel Court Primary School Wins Building Money


Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws MP has today announced government money to rebuild Arundel Court Primary School in Portsmouth.

The announcement follows a strong campaign by local Parliamentary Candidate and city councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson who has supported the school's plans to upgrade their facilities.

The money will come from the Priority Schools Building Programme, a £2bn government scheme spearheaded by the Liberal Democrats to rebuild those schools across the country suffering most from wear and tear.

Schools included in the programme are now able to start developing detailed plans, and are expected to be completed in 2017.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws MP said:

"I am delighted to be able to announce money that will allow Arundel Court Primary School to make badly needed improvements to their building.

“Arundel Court Primary School has run a fantastic campaign on behalf of local parents and children, making a very clear case as to why the school needs this money.

"School buildings that aren't up to scratch unfairly hold our children and young people back. Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential, and improving Arundel Court Primary will make sure that many more children in Portsmouth receive a good education."

Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Portsmouth South Gerald Vernon-Jackson said:

"This announcement is fantastic news for families and teachers in Portsmouth.

"Portsmouth badly needs to upgrade its classrooms and other facilities. This money fought for and delivered by Liberal Democrats in government will make a real difference.

"I'd like to thank all those who helped us campaign on this issue. Making sure all children in Portsmouth get a fair start in life should always be a top priority, and I can't wait to see Arundel Court's plans develop."

Cynical Council allotment plot as growers prepare to dig-in against extra charges

In an extraordinary move Conservatives running the City Council have changed their proposal several times.  It is to be considered tomorrow (Thursday 9 a.m) in the Guildhall. Stung by so much opposition since this unpopular move was exposed by local Lib Dems a couple of weeks ago; Conservatives are now saying the £20,000 they want to raise originally to "spend elsewhere in the city" is now actually to cover 'discretionary costs' like insurance. The trouble is allotment council officers stated at a January meeting "Full Cost Recovery was achieved in November last year".

No one knew about these rises until local Lib Dems started to notify allotment associations and the public. As a result the Conservative Councillor was invited by allotment leaders to explain the rises to their meeting last week.  In that meeting the Conservative Councillor behind these extra rises said 'that she would raise fees for allotments if it meant keeping other services.'  So it looks like they are still intent on raising £20,000 off allotment holders to spend elsewhere as they stated before, but using a new cynical form of words to try to hide what they are doing.  

You can make your mind up on the two versions of events below:

This is what the report (below) said when the rises were exposed in January:

1. Purpose of report

1.1. In light of the budget pressures faced by Portsmouth City Council officers have identified ways of achieving a surplus from the city's allotments. This report identifies options to achieve this.

1.2. To inform the cabinet member that allotments will no longer be offered for rent in rods (an obsolete unit of measurement) but will instead be offered in square meters.

2. Recommendations

2.1. That the cabinet member approves one of the options presented to generate £20,000 additional income from allotments. 2.2. That the cabinet member notes the change in units of measurement of allotment plots.

This is what the 'new' (rewritten) report says now:

1. Purpose of report:  

1.1. In line with the ambition of Portsmouth City Council to ensure that the fees for discretionary services are set to cover the costs of delivery, officers are recommending two options to increase fee levels to meet this objective.

1.2. To inform the cabinet member that allotments will no longer be offered for rent in rods (an obsolete unit of measurement) but will instead be offered in square meters.

2. Recommendations

2.1. That the cabinet member approves one of the options presented to move closer to the aim to ensure that fees generated from discretionary services cover the full cost of service delivery. In officers opinion, both options result in the same outcome financially, but option 1 has less risk, consequently option 1 is recommended.

Parking in your street to get much worse

The Conservative, Labour and UKIP councillors in Portsmouth have voted to bring in a charge for the first car parking permit for each household in residents' parking zones. The advice from city council officers is that they expect about 10% of cars in residents' parking zones to refuse to buy a permit and park in nearby roads, outside of residents parking zones.

There are 9,500 first car permits, about 1,100 second car permits and about 300 second car permits.

"Parking is a real battle in the city," says local Lib Dem campaigner Michael Andrewes. "The unintended consequence of charging people to park in the residents' car parking zones is that cars will be displaced from them and park in roads nearby. This is a bad idea and will make parking in this area much worse."

Lib Dem councillors identified a different way of the raising the money the council needs from cutting senior management at the council and perks to councillors such as free car parking. These ideas have been rejected by the Conservative, Labour and UKIP councillors in Portsmouth who all voted to bring in these charges. This would mean there was no charge for the first permit and no displacement of cars into your area.

"This coming year the charge is expected to be £40 for the first car, but once the council has started charging for this permit then it could go up and up in price. They have just agreed to increase the charge for businesses on the seafront from £210 a year to £1,160 so anything is possible," says Portsmouth's Parliamentary candidate, Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

More jobs created in Portsmouth

Liberal Democrats in government have been working hard to create more jobs and Portsmouth has enjoyed one of the biggest job increases in the country, according to a new report.

The Cities Outlook 2015 report, from the Centre for Cities think tank, says jobs in the Portsmouth area increased by 18,800 (or 9.2%) between 2004 and 2013 - the entire time Liberal Democrats ran Portsmouth City Council. This was the sixth highest increase in the country.

It also says real wages increased by 4.4% between 2013 and 2014, putting Portsmouth in sixth place.

Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Portsmouth South Gerald Vernon-Jackson said,

“I’m really pleased that the efforts of Lib Dems in government and on the City Council to create jobs are showing results right here in Portsmouth.
“But, much more needs to be done to create and protect jobs in our city. That’s why as leader of the Council I fought to keep the Royal Navy here when the previous government threatened to close the base in Portsmouth and why I’m continuing to campaign to bring new jobs to the City.”

The Liberal Democrats in Government have helped create over 1 million new jobs and 2 million apprenticeships since 2010.

We've done this by:

  • Putting £5.5 billion extra into hi-tech manufacturing, science and renewable energy
  • Creating a £3.2 billion Regional Growth Fund to help fund growing businesses
  • Using £15.3 billion to improve Britain’s roads, railways and housing


Backing local shops and jobs

Backing-local-shops.jpgLocal shops are being looked after by Portsmouth Lib Dems.

According to national figures Portsmouth's shop occupancy rates average 97%, which is above the UK average. One of the reasons is when running the Council local Lib Dems created the city's small, but effective 'Shopping Centres Team' supporting local designated shopping areas with events help and advice.

Albert Road, promoted for it's niche independent retail scene and for local shopping needs - is doing well. Local Lib Dem Cllrs Lee Hunt and Margaret Adair are pictured enjoying a chat and coffee in the streets latest new business 'Home Coffee' with one of the proud owners, who is pleased with an encouraging start. Almost dead-on-its-feet 10 years ago Fawcett Road top-end has revived with a mix of uses and Winter Road is almost full.

Whilst the Lib Dem-run Council did a lot to help, by contrast Conservatives are adding to shops and trades costs by putting up permits for parking in Southsea from a reasonable £210 a year to a whopping £1,170/yr; demolishing any claim to be supporting business! As part of an ongoing Council value-for-money review three local Lib Dem Councillors are looking at how to even better support local shops.

Blackmail over car parking zones

The Conservative Cabinet member for Transport has decided that there should be a charge for the first car parking permit in your area.

There will be an official council consultation on this over the next few months, but there will be only two options.

  1. Pay for the first parking permit and keep your residents parking zone, or
  2. Don't pay for the first permit and lose your residents' car parking zone.

Lib Dem councillors identified a different way of raising the money the council needs from cutting senior management at the council, and perks to councillors such as free car parking. These ideas have been rejected by the Conservative, Labour and UKIP councillors in Portsmouth who all voted to bring in these charges.

"We have asked for a question on the consultation for residents to be able to say, keep the scheme as it is now with no charge for the first permit," says local Lib Dem campaigner Jason Fazackarley. "We were shocked that even asking this question has been rejected and residents are now facing either paying up or losing their residents parking schemes. This is blackmail."
"This coming year the charge is expected to be £40, but once the council has started charging for this permit then it could go up and up in price. They have just agreed to increase the charge for businesses on the seafront from £210 a year to £1,160 so anything is possible," says Portsmouth's Parliamentary candidate, Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Help us oppose these charges by signing our petition here

Lib Dems join the march against terror


Portsmouth's two Lib Dem Parliamentary candidates have joined people of all nationalities in a march against the terror attacks in Paris.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Darren Sanders joined more than 100 people on the march which followed the deaths of 17 Parisians at the hands of terrorists.

10 of the people who died worked on the French magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' and marchers sang 'Je Suis Charlie' (I am Charlie), which has become a catchphrase for people wanting to defend press freedom.

The march went from Guildhall Square to the War Memorial on the seafront and back again. It was organised by French students angry at what happened in their county.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson said:

"I am delighted that the march has taken place. Terrorism can only win if its enemies do nothing. My thanks to the French students who put effort into getting the march organised."

Darren Sanders said:

"Our thoughts go out to those journalists who died, the Muslim policeman killed defending them and the innocents who also died in a Jewish supermarket. We must all work together to defeat those who use religion for their own, sick ends."

Local Councillor learns about 7070 Apprenticeships


Since being in Government in 2010, the Liberal Democrats have created over 7070 new apprenticeships in Portsmouth. Apprenticeships are a very important route into work for our city’s young people, especially as an alternative to University.

Local Lib Dem Councillor Ben Dowling recently met two young apprentices from BAE,

“It’s really positive to see so many young people in Portsmouth choosing to start apprenticeships in order to get paid whilst learning how to do a job.”
“I met Stephy and Abbi who are currently on engineering apprenticeships at BAE Systems. They told me about how good it was that engineering apprenticeships are open to girls and boys because of how engineering is an area or work which has traditionally been easier to get into as a man.”

Conservative-run Council to ‘blackmail’ local people ​over parking zone charges​

The Conservative transport boss, Cllr Ken Ellcome, has decided to go ahead with a consultation on residents parking​ but with only 2 options​;​ ​either to pay a new fee for a car  parking ​permit ​or to lose their schemes. ​

​He rejected a request from Lib Dem Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Portsmouth South Gerald Vernon-Jackson to include a question asking whether they wanted to keep residents car parking schemes as they are.

"This is outrageous," says Portsmouth Lib a Dem Leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson. "The Conservatives don't want people to have a real choice,​only to either pay​-​up this new charge or lose their parking scheme. This is blackmail. And they are consulting without saying what the charge will be, it could be £50, or £100 or even more."

​Jill Norman and funfair representatives told Cllr Ellcome that the proposal to put seafront traders and business permits up from £210 to £1,160 would harm the seafront, jobs and businesses.

Local people made numerous representations in writing and 6 pleaded with the Tory transport boss in person not to do this, but he ignored them all.

The Tory Traffic boss also said at a recent Council meeting that there will be no new Residents Parking Zones created until 2017 "at the earliest and probably not until 2019" meaning local residents who currently don’t have a parking zone will have no choice at all.

The Conservatives have already suspended the popular and much-liked MC and MB parking zones in Southsea despite the fact that these two zones were making a SURPLUS for the City Council’s hard pressed services.

Alternatively Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson also pointed out that the Lib Dem budget (alternative budget), voted down by the UKIP/Labour/Conservative coalition continued to provide the first permit for free and fully funded the costs by reducing senior management.

If you oppose these charges, and the proposed service changes, then please sign our petition here and help us stop them.

Join us in supporting people affected by Motor Neuron Disease

Today local Lib Dems, led by Portsmouth South Parliamentary Candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson attended a public signing of the 'MND (Motor Neuron Disease) Charter' at the invitation of Portsmouth & SE MND Hampshire Group.  

The Charter is part of an ongoing campaign to gain better recognition and support for local people living with MND, their family, carers and friends to promote of the rights that are so important when living with this cruel terminal disease. Gerald Vernon-Jackson was present along with local Councillors from other political groups, showing cross-party support for the Charter.

The MND Charter:

The MND Charter is a statement of the respect, care and support that people with MND and their carers deserve and should expect. The Charter signing campaign is the first step towards making sure everyone understands these priorities of care and pledges to work towards the Charter's vision of the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

What the Charter says:

  1. People with MND have the right to an early diagnosis and information.
  2. People with MND have the right to access quality care and treatments.
  3. People with MND have the right to be treated as individuals and with dignity and respect.
  4. People with MND have the right to maximise their quality of life.
  5. Carers of people with MND have the right to be valued, respected, listened to and well-supported.

Signatures will continue to be collected in support for the Charter until May 2015, will then be presented to No.10 Downing St after the General Election. The signatures will show the strength of support there is for the Charter and its vision to ensure all people with MND receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time care (as set out in the Charter).

Please join us in showing your support. You can sign the charter here.

Tory spending cuts would be “disastrous” for Portsmouth’s schools, colleges and nurseries


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.

Shock as Scrooge-like UKIP, Labour & Tories vote to pinch Portsmouth charity clothes banks cash

Portsmouth South candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Fratton candidate Dave Ashmore support Portsmouth charity clothes banks 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".

Help us fight this decision. Click here to sign the petition.

Autumn Statement has Liberal Democrat policies at its core

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. 

Fratton shops get going

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:

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.

Portsmouth's 'Green Waste Club' is booming


key_greenwaste.jpgOne 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.

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