Info boards, screens and lights are all good ideas

Tents in the Isambard Brunel car park in Portsmouth

NEWS COMMENT: Wild campers in car park might make a difference

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As a maritime city, the variety of ships using the Solent has always been one of Portsmouth’s attractions. Go down to the seafront and you can enjoy a spectacular, ever-changing vista as vessels of all shapes and sizes come and go.

But how many of them could you identify? And do you know where they’ve come from and what cargo they’re carrying?

Such information can only add to the experience of the seafront, so we applaud the city council for investing in five ‘ship identification boards’ that will be installed at locations between the Spinnaker Tower and Eastney beach.

We also like the idea of the ship identification screens that the council plans to put in buildings on the front.

Using transponder technology, they would track shipping movements and give people real-time information about the vessels they can see. A sort of hi-tech version of the old I-Spy books.

That’s not all though. Another innovative scheme revealed in our story today is LED lighting that will be put in along the promenade, synchronising with the Spinnaker Tower to light up the seafront in different colours. The system will also allow lighting effects, such as ‘wave’ patterns along its length.

It’s going to be a great attraction for those who go for a walk along the front at night, while the lights will also be seen by all those ferry passengers coming in and out of the harbour.

Hopefully it will stick in their memory and they may resolve to return and spend time and money in the city.

Yes, the total cost of £75,000 for the ship information and lights will probably raise some eyebrows at a time when the council is making cutbacks. But we believe it’s a worthwhile investment.

We’ve said before that the traditional seafront needs a new strategy to ensure it’s not left behind by more modern offerings. These innovations are an encouraging aspect of a vision that is vital to its future.

And how fitting that lights are part of the package in a city whose motto is ‘Heaven’s Light Our Guide’.