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Controversy over the opposition of a grant to cover essential maintenance of the Strand Mural erupted over Facebook during the first week of February 2021.

The Mural has sound foundations – but its exposed site and proximity to the sea means that a maintenance regime is essential to keep it safe.

A petition by the LibDems, shared widely on Facebook, revealed that the bid for community funds was opposed by Councillors Luke Stubbs and Linda Symes, both elected as Conservatives. This means the bid now has to be decided at Cabinet.

LibDem Councillors Matthew Winnington said “I want to Save The Strand Mural, this unique piece of living art in our community not just shows the places in Portsmouth, but also the personality of its people. It would be an act of vandalism to allow it to fall into disrepair. I want to support its renovation from local community funds so future generations get to enjoy it as much as the countless thousands of people who have already.”

The story was picked up by The Portsmouth News (see article in the sidebar) who expanded on the argument, quoting Stubbs as saying “Public funds are scarce at the moment and I don’t think it’s a good use of the funds.” This is partially true – but the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund, from which the money has been requested, is raised from developers who build properties in the ward. There is a large amount currently not used, and this is the sort of project it is designed for. It cannot be spent on anything but the community – and there is NO cost to PCC

The grant application lists what the money will be spent on – including fixing cracks, repairing salt damage, repainting block colour, installing a metal bench, clean and fix the paving, fixing top mortar including the hire fee for a scissor lift for two weeks, paints, brushes and materials.

We await the their decision with everything crossed!