On Tuesday 11 October 2022, during the Portsmouth City Council Full Council meeting, Portsmouth Labour Councillors proposed two motions that passed unanimously – one relating to improved access to NHS dentists and another on tackling child poverty during the cost of living crisis.
On access to NHS dentists, Cllr Asghar Shah gave his maiden speech to share feedback from residents about the challenges they’re facing with accessing dentists and to encourage further action from the council to improve dentistry services in Portsmouth.
To counter the dentistry crisis, Portsmouth City Council has been actioned to:
- Identify any emergency short term solutions that would enable families in need of NHS services to get urgent care locally;
- Support the provision of a comprehensive database to enable patients using the NHS 111 service to access dental services quickly;
- Consider appointing an elected councillor as a dental champion for the city council;
- Support giving dental advice to new parents through health visitors, pharmacists, GPs and early years services about the dangers of giving children sweet food and drinks and the need to brush teeth regularly;
- Work with Portsmouth university’s dental academy and local dentists to improve recruitment and retention of dentists in Portsmouth;
- Write to the new health minister to ask for urgent action to address the problems in the current contract for NHS dentistry.
Cosham councillor Asghar Shah, who proposed the motion, said: “I’ve spoken to over a hundred residents in Cosham about their experiences of local dentistry services. Appallingly, many residents shared that not only can they not access an NHS dentist, but they are finding it incredibly difficult to access any dentists at all. Several people said they were going to travel abroad for dental services. I welcome the unanimous support from across the council chamber to take further action to improve access to dentistry and we hope that by working with other nearby councils we will see more residents getting the support they need.”
Cllr Yinka Adeniran also gave her maiden speech to call on the council to do more to support families during the cost of living crisis, in particular around tackling the cost of branded school uniforms and exploring extending Free School Meal eligibility.
As the motion passed unanimously, Portsmouth City Council is actioned:
- To ask the relevant Cabinet Portfolio holder to write to all Portsmouth schools requesting they stop the use of mandatory branded school uniform items where unbranded items can be bought at more affordable prices.
- To ask Cabinet to consider extending Free School Meal provision to children in households experiencing financial hardship but who do not meet the restrictive national criteria.
- To place on record our sincere thanks to all council services, community organisations and charities involved in supporting local families through the cost of living crisis.
Charles Dickens councillor, Cllr Yinka Adeniran, who proposed the motion said: “I’m pleased that today, Labour’s motion to tackle child poverty was supported by all councillors. Families are being faced with dire circumstances during the cost of living crisis – many forced to choose between heating and eating and also forgoing essential items to pay for costly branded school uniforms. As a council and a city we should be doing all we can to support families during this very difficult time – and that includes the council exploring extending Free School Meals to struggling households.”
Lastly, Full Council considered new plans from the Liberal Democrat administration for Tipner West. Labour councillors joined a total of nineteen councillors that abstained, due to a lack of satisfaction with the guiding principles for the development.
Cllr Cal Corkery, Leader of the Labour Group said: “It’s incredibly disappointing the Lib Dems have voted to continue with their environmentally damaging plans for a super-peninsula at Tipner West. Their mismanagement of the project has led to a situation where millions of pounds of taxpayers money looks likely to be written off at a time when local services are desperate for funding to deal with the cost of living crisis facing Portsmouth residents. Over half of all councillors didn’t vote in favour of the Lib Dems newest proposals – many of us shared concerns about the levels of land reclamation and the limited guarantees to protect this internationally recognised environmental site.”