Public debate called on how to improve Fratton Road in Portsmouth

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ISSUES with anti-social behaviour in a city shopping area will be the hot topic in a Question Time-style debate.

A panel made up of police and councillors will take questions from local traders about how Fratton Road, in Portsmouth, can be improved.

The discussion is being led by the newly-created Fratton Road Traders Association at Fratton Community Centre.

The meeting has been sparked by businesses who are fed up with seeing the area in decline and want action to be taken.

Nick Courtney, association chairman, said: ‘It’s a nasty area at night, without question.

‘During the day, the shops have to put up with kids banging on the windows and pushing open their doors.

‘The whole purpose of this is to find ways of improving Fratton Road.

‘There’s also a major problem with parking and people are saying it is too expensive.

‘We want to do things like shops in Castle Road, in Southsea, have done and put on a street market and a fun day.

‘We all sit here and put up with it – the whole area is in total decline and has been for the last 20 to 30 years.

‘There used to be banks, building societies, greengrocers and a butchers here.

‘We have now got 13 takeaways and barbers in less than a mile because there is nothing else anyone can open which doesn’t come into competition with Asda.’

The association was formed on the back of the work Fratton Big Local is doing to improve Fratton.

The community organisation has been given £1m to regenerate the area and help pull more visitors in.

Ukip ward councillor Julie Swan welcomed the debate and said it will help to build on ideas a panel from the council is coming up with to boost district shopping areas.

‘Regenerated high streets bring back pride in an area,’ she said.

‘Once you have got pride, you will get a better sense of community spirit.’

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 13 from 6.30pm.

The event is only open to local shops due to limited space, but residents will be welcome to attend future meetings once a bigger venue is found.