Pep up Portsmouth’s cultural life, new poll suggests

Pep up Portsmouth’s cultural life, new poll suggests

21 June 2013

Portsmouth needs to pep up its cultural life, following its failure to be chosen as UK City of Culture for 2017, a new poll has suggested.

The cultural ‘desert’ in Portsmouth was hinted at in an independent survey commissioned by the People United - a coalition of unions including Unite, GMB, PCS, CWU and Unison.

The findings are in a survey of 14 English towns and cities involved in this summer’s People United bus tour, which showed that the people of Portsmouth recorded the lowest  proportion of all the cities (0.5 per cent) in terms of people describing a ‘vibrant culture’ of museums, art and nightlife as their favourite thing about the city.

The People United bus, which arrives in Portsmouth on Tuesday 25 June, will be offering advice and information on local campaigns between 10.00-14.00 in Guildhall Walk. On board the bus will be trade union experts and community specialists to offer advice and information on problems in and out-of-work.

People United is also asking people to share their ideas to get the economy growing and help build the ‘People’s manifesto’ to change our country for the better.

There will be also be a ‘question time’ event at Portsmouth Rail Club, Selbourne Terrace PO1 5BL between 19.00-21.00 on Monday (24 June) to which the public are invited. Speakers include Frank Minal, GMB officer and Labour candidate for the city council; Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat leader of Portsmouth city council, and Ursula Ward, chief executive of Queen Alexandra Hospital in the city.

Unsurprisingly, 26 per cent of Portsmouth residents surveyed said that local history was what they were most proud of – the highest of all the cities in our study. This related to the city’s maritime and naval history, with specific mentions of HMS Victory, forts and the dockyards.

Natural beauty was (like many other seaside towns) top of the list of positives about Portsmouth (28 per cent), with people listing the beach and the seafront among their favourite things. The Spinnaker Tower was regularly mentioned among the 15 per cent of people interested in local architecture.

Roads (12 per cent) and crime (10 per cent) are key demands that residents wanted the government to address. In terms of issues affecting local residents, residents were less concerned about financial matters (16 per cent) than any other city.

They were, however, the second most concerned city about the cost and availability of housing (10 per cent), suggesting a relatively affluent region - although there was still a similar level of concern over job security and unemployment (17 per cent), as in most cities and towns.

Unite regional community coordinator Kelly Tomlinson said: "Following this week’s failure of Portsmouth to advance further in its quest to be UK City of Culture in 2017, the survey suggests that Portsmouth may need to boost its cultural activities, such as museums, art venues and places to go to at night.

“For example, the pier is closed for health and safety reasons, and there is a distinct lack of bars and restaurants along the four-mile stretch of the sea front. This is very wasteful - we could have such a vibrant ‘riviera’ if investment by entrepreneurs was encouraged. This, in turn, would create employment. 

“What is clear is that Portsmouth scores highly for its local history, so there is a good bedrock to build on in terms of cultural life.
“Like most places in the UK, there is concern about jobs – or the lack of them, but also worries about the cost and availability of housing.
“People United will be in Portsmouth to hear more about what people have to say about improving their town and their country. We will also be here to offer help and support to local communities. This is a fantastic opportunity to make your voice heard and to make a difference.

“We are asking people to share their ideas to get the economy growing and help build the People’s manifesto to change our country for the better."


For further information, please contact the Unite press office on 0203 371 2065 and/or or Unite regional community coordinator Kelly Tomlinson on 07941 342 835

  • Survation interviewed 1,451 UK adults by telephone on 3-14 June 2013 in Blackpool, Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, Hartlepool, Hastings, Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Stoke-on-Trent. Data were weighted to the profile of all adults aged 18+ in the relevant cities. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.