Councillors Hint at New Domestic Violence Services Following Campaigners’ Pressure

Sarah Cheverton reports on a Twitter exchange between Hampshire domestic violence charity Aurora New Dawn, the Council Leader and local councillors hinting at new service provision for victims of domestic abuse, following local and national protest at last month’s announcement of funding cuts to council domestic violence services in 2017/18. 

The Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Donna Jones,  tweeted yesterday about ‘exciting new plans’ for domestic violence support to the city, including media outlets BBC and ITV in her tweet. The ‘new plans’ follow the Council’s announcement last month of the ruling administration’s  intention to cut the City Council’s nationally-accredited domestic violence service, the Early Intervention Project, in 2017-18,  which would see the team reduced from 13 to 5 staff.

The planned cuts  prompted strong concern from the local domestic violence sector, as well as national and local campaigners for domestic violence services, including a demonstration at the full council meeting in which Conservative and other councillors left the chamber, and an online petition that attracted over 42,000 signatures within a week.

Since the meeting, national campaigners have also voiced their concerns at the proposed cuts including Hampshire charity Aurora New Dawn, campaign groups Sisters Uncut and the End Violence Against Women coalition, and trade unions Unison and UNITE.

While the Leader hinted on social media about discussions with ‘the sector’ and government Ministers, councillors remain tight-lipped about the exact nature of the plans to prevent victims of domestic violence losing vital support services in 2017/18. When asked if the ‘new plans’ include guarantees of long term ‘sustainable funding’ and a ‘strategic plan’ to maintain the safety of victims experiencing and fleeing violence in the city, Leader Donna  Jones answered only that the plans were ‘exciting’ and she was ‘hoping so’.

Despite the absence of an announcement of any clear plans for funding or the protection of domestic violence services in the city, fellow Conservative councillor Scott Harris was quick to congratulate the Leader and Cllr Rob New, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety on their ‘hard work’ in addressing the cuts put in place by their own administration.

The Twitter exchange is reproduced below.


While councillors and the Leader are hinting at a solution to the cuts, the local domestic violence sector and anti-cuts activists eagerly await the announcement of plans to protect domestic violence services. A new petition is also currently in circulation that has attracted over 750 signatures in a few days. 1000 signatures are required to ensure that Councillors must debate the cut at next month’s budget meeting.

Photography by Sarah Cheverton.