Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth councillors call for Victory Energy rethink

Victory Energy website Image copyright Victory Energy
Image caption Victory Energy was halted before it went in to operation

A council could be forced to rethink a decision to close its own energy company.

Portsmouth City Council's previous Conservative administration set up Victory Energy, but it was mothballed before it went into operation.

The incoming Liberal Democrat-run administration deemed it too risky and planned to close it at a cost of £2.5m.

But Labour and Tory councillors joined forces to vote for its reinstatement as part of a budget debate.

Victory Energy was set up in 2017 with the aim of providing residents with low-cost renewable electricity and to generate revenue for the council.

Its set-up was halted in August when the Liberal Democrats regained control of the council following May's elections.

While waiting for a buyer the company is costing £18,000 a week.

A joint Conservative and Labour amendment to the council budget calling for it to be reinstated was passed at a meeting on Tuesday.

'Protect public services'

Conservative group leader Donna Jones insisted the £2.5m should be spent on "positive things people want" and claimed Victory Energy could bring in "£50m within five years".

"There is a growth in municipal-owned energy companies across the country," she said.

Stephen Morgan, from the Labour group, which backed the Lib Dems' leadership in 2018, said: "When there is £2.5m at risk, we've worked with the Conservatives to force the administration to bear that in mind and protect public services.

"There is such strength of feeling in the chamber, they've got to listen."

Council leader Gerald Vernon Jackson, who has opposed the authority entering the "very challenging" energy market, said no bids had yet been received to take over the company.

"The private sector has said 'this isn't going to work, this isn't going to make profits, we're not prepared to buy it'," he said.

The proposed amendment will be discussed by the council cabinet.

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