Widening of pavements is the start of regeneration

The Rev Canon Bob White with representatives of the groups involved in our Christmas campaignh run with churches in Portsmouth - Comfort and Joy

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It sounds so simple, but then the best ideas often are. Widening the pavements in London Road, North End is a positive move that will play an important part in helping to revitalise this part of Portsmouth.

Those with businesses in the road may not thank us for saying it, but over the years it has become a somewhat run-down shopping district that struggles to attract custom.

So anything that stimulates trade has to be a good thing – and making the area more attractive and safer for people is a great start.

In these tough economic times, when budgets are stretched, there may be those who question the spending of £400,000 on work to widen pavements and improve pedestrian crossings. But something had to be done.

London Road is a busy route through the city and narrow pavements have been a potential hazard for pedestrians.

It’s an issue that was tragically highlighted by the death of a woman several years ago.

Credit for the improvements must go to the city council, which has listened to what has been said at public meetings and in a steering group of local residents and representatives of the business community.

And we shouldn’t forget the contribution of Lib Dem councillor Leo Madden, who lives in the area and has been working on the project for four years. He also listened to what people wanted and put in for a government grant to get the work done.

The widening of the pavements has been achieved by removing a section of the road’s bus lane and relocating parking spaces.

Surely that’s a small price to pay – and improved directions to nearby car parks should mean motorists are not inconvenienced.

Now all we need is for people who have come to regard this merely as a through road to stop and see what the traders there have to offer – and for new, quality shops to be attracted to the area by this increase in potential customers.

Providing people with a safer and more enjoyable experience is an encouraging first step to regenerating London Road.