DISABLED access, the regeneration of shops and engaging people in town planning are some of the issues residents feel need to be tackled in Waterlooville.
Yesterday saw the first meeting of the Waterlooville Community Forum. It has replaced the two Community Boards, Waterlooville North and South.
More than 40 people turned up to the first of two meetings billed as an opportunity to discuss the big issues facing the town.
It is hoped the forum will include people from across business, community and voluntary groups, politicians and residents.
It was set up in response to the government’s Localism Act which puts more power into the hands of the people.
Sean Greenall, manager of the Community Centre, said: ‘The problem Waterlooville has is that it is not enticing to big brands.
‘We need the big shops here to bring in the shoppers.
‘At the moment if you walk through it’s one charity shop after another.
‘Waterlooville is dying and we’ve got 3,500 homes being built just over the road so we need to do something quickly because that is going to have a major impact on the town.’
Lynda Waters is the chairman of disability group Rocky Rollers and she says better access is needed urgently.
She said: ‘At the moment it is as if Waterlooville is split into two halves.
‘It’s actually impossible for someone on a mobility scooter, in a wheelchair or pushing a pram to get down St George’s Walk steps from the main shops to the retail park.
‘We urgently need access there.’
Councillor Mike Cheshire, whose responsibilities include mobility, agreed that something needed to be done but it was down to the Rocky Rollers to take the initiative and he would back them.
He said money constraints may mean shops in the retail park have to fund improvements.
Councillor Paul Buckley, who chaired the meeting, hailed it a success and said: ‘What we want is a forum in which people actively participate.’