‘Portsmouth City Council is putting plasters over problems in North End’ say businesses

Giles Cleverley, owner of Syn-Star, in North End Picture: Sarah Standing (151600-6358)
Giles Cleverley, owner of Syn-Star, in North End Picture: Sarah Standing (151600-6358)
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FRESH fears have been raised over the future of shopping in North End as more traders leave the struggling area due to a fall in trade.

Computer repair firm Syn-Star, which set up a branch in London Road around seven years ago, shut down in the run-up to Christmas as it wasn’t making enough money.

...parking spaces out the front of the shops worked for North End. When the council took that away, that’s when we started to struggle.

Syn-Star director Giles Cleverley

Syn-Star director Giles Cleverley said Portsmouth City Council is putting ‘plasters’ over the city shopping district’s problems and not getting to grips with what needs to be done to revive its fortunes.

Flowers by Linda florists, in London Road, also closed its doors in December. It follows a string of store closures, including the loss of the Co-op and McDonald’s and other start-up firms – leading to vacant shops propping up all over the high street.

Mr Cleverley, who also operates the company’s main store in Petersfield, said: ‘It’s the parking that has led to this, full stop. When we moved in, there was parking out the front. North End is a place where you pull up, grab stuff for 30 minutes and off you go again.

‘Parking spaces out the front of the shops worked for North End. When the council took that away, that’s when we started to struggle. The council’s approach is to put plasters over the problems.

‘The parking has to be sorted properly.’ Mr Cleverley said it got to the stage where he was spending £10,000 a month on marketing – and only pulling in £8,000 in sales.

It comes despite the council announcing plans to create new parking spaces in the road, a 12-month trial of free parking periods and new rates for short-stay shoppers.

City leaders Donna Jones and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt have also met traders to listen to their concerns. But Simon Bratby, owner of Pet Price, in North End, said: ‘After half an hour of that meeting, it just felt like a waste of time.’

Cllr Jones said seven new parking spaces are being put in front of the now empty Syn-Star store – but the firm demanded more. She said: ‘Unfortunately the Syn-Star owners wanted the council to create dedicated spaces at the rear of their premises just for them and their customers.

‘I made it clear we would not be able to do this as we would be seen to be supporting a single business.’