Fears for high street future as shops close

Wicked Waffle in North End, which has now closed down
Wicked Waffle in North End, which has now closed down
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TRADERS have raised their concerns about the future of a shopping district after two more businesses closed down.

Wicked Waffle and Mammalena, both in London Road, North End, recently closed their doors.

They follow in the footsteps of McDonald’s, which closed down earlier this year.

Now traders are worried this could affect them.

Simon Bratby is the co-owner of Pet Price. He said: ‘After the parking was taken away, KFC went first and then McDonald’s went.

‘I think that affected them a great deal. When they went, our trade went down.’

And Mr Bratby said he is worried for the future.

‘I think half of the retailers are sitting on their leases. When they come to an end, they will go,’ he said.

‘We are hoping to do up the front of our shop to improve it and make it look brighter.

‘North End has been declining for many years.’

Portsmouth City Council is carrying out a report into revitalising high streets and secondary shopping areas.

John McGee, manager of Price Crazy, added: ‘Shops closing down doesn’t do the area any good.

‘I thought that when Sainsbury’s came here it would have picked up but it didn’t.

‘The rates are too high. They just can’t cope with it.’

Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, has been working with Portsmouth City Council to try and find ways to improve the area and regenerate the high street.

She suggested setting up free parking, organising a weekly market and employing some street wardens.

She said: ‘The traders have identified things that would make an immediate impact to them, and the council should get on with those whilst it also produces its much-needed report in to what more can be done over the medium term.’

Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy leader at the council said traders could form an association.

He added: ‘The occupancy rate in North End remains strong, and while there are a few empty units they’re very much the exception.’

The council has also made its Stubbington Avenue car park free after 3pm.