Ryde may be rocking, but Gosport is a ghost town

LAWRENCE MURPHY: A worthy alternative to roasties?

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It’s eight o’clock on Sunday evening and I’m in Ryde, that small town opposite us on the Isle of Wight.

It’s built on a steep hill, leading down to a sandy seafront and a half-mile pier.

It’s crying out for the redevelopment of the bus station site to help make the town a destination instead of passing-through town

It’s easy getting down to the town, but it can be hard work getting back up again.

Thirty thousand people live in Ryde. In fact the island’s population is just 130,000 people, but I notice a marked difference in the way of life here and over the water in Gosport.

I sit in Wetherspoons enjoying a meal and a cheap pint of fantastic ale, watching the world go by with a friend.

The pub’s very busy for a Sunday night and as I say my goodbyes and head down the hill for the ferry, I notice that there are plenty of people out and about, enjoying a meal.

Buses hurry people around, with departures every 15 minutes to Newport and 20 to Shanklin.

The last buses leave at 1am. This is on a Sunday night!

Thirty minutes later, I’m in Gosport and I head for the bus station on the last leg of my journey home.

Gosport is a ghost town. I have to wait 25 minutes for the next bus in a desolate, poorly-lit bus station and no-one else is around.

There’s only the Eclipse bus running, as it seems there’s no demand from Lee- on-the-Solent, Stubbington and Alverstoke.

Ninety thousand people live in Gosport. Where is everybody?

Our town has nothing to offer its residents, by the looks of it.

You’d have thought buses would be busy ferrying people between Gosport and Fareham at the weekend, but this just isn’t the case.

Has the marked improvement of Portsmouth over the past few years come at a cost to Gosport?

It’s crying out for the redevelopment of the bus station site to help make the town a destination instead of passing-through town.

Like Ryde, we need a decent selection of bars and restaurants to tempt people out.

Or maybe the deserted streets mean people in Gosport are bigger fans of Downton Abbey than those on the island?