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Portsmouth council approves budget with domestic abuse support cuts

image captionProtesters gathered in Guildhall Square ahead of the council meeting

Budget cuts of £11m, including a reduction in support for domestic abuse victims, have been approved by Portsmouth City Council

More than 42,000 people signed an online petition opposing a £180,000 cut in domestic violence services.

Campaigners claim the budget cuts were "literally playing with people's lives".

Council deputy leader Luke Stubbs said the authority had "no choice" but to balance its budget.

After a six-hour meeting, the Conservative-led authority voted in favour of £11m worth of cuts as part of its 2016/17 budget.

It needs to cut £31m from its budget over the next three years.

The council proposals said a reduction of £180,000 to the domestic abuse service would be a "sizeable reduction in capacity".

It said it would investigate "mitigation plans" to support the service when the cuts take effect after the 2016/17 financial year.

'Balanced budget'

Shonagh Dillon of domestic abuse charity Aurora New Dawn: "If you cut services that are specialist and independent then you will have people who are murdered."

Council deputy leader Luke Stubbs said: "There is a lot of concern about various changes that are going to have to be made. But we have to recognise we don't have a choice - we have to get to a balanced budget.

"We have to look at Portsmouth's council as a business, work out what our priorities are stick to those."

The leader of Portsmouth's Liberal Democrats Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: "They may not come into effect for a year but they are still wrong.

"We will continue to try to get other councillors to change their minds and oppose these cuts."

About 100 jobs are set to be cut overall, although the council said some of the affected posts are already vacant.

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