THE leader of Portsmouth City Council has ruled out reversing changes made in North End which traders say have caused trade to slump.
Widened pavements were introduced in London Road in 2012 to improve access for shoppers – but that meant a loss of parking spaces along the street.
We don’t have that kind of spare cash; any spare money has been spent on building classrooms in the primary sector as we inherited more than a 1,000 primary school place shortage last year.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Businesses believe the move, implemented at a cost of £400,000 by the Lib Dems when they ran the council, has ruined what was once a busy high street.
While Tory leader of the council Donna Jones pledged in January last year to look at reversing the scheme, a year on she says it would cost up to £500,000 – money that isn’t available.
It comes after Syn-Star computer repair firm and Flowers by Linda became the latest shops to close due to falling trade. Syn-Star director Giles Cleverley said the problem with parking was one of the key reasons why his firm, which is based near Petersfield, moved out of Portsmouth.
Cllr Jones said: ‘It is not disputed that the pavement widening carried out by the previous Liberal Democrat administration was a mistake and has had an impact on North End.
‘The parking was reduced massively.
‘I have obtained costs of reversing the pavement widening, but it’s the same as the Palmerston Road scheme we had to reverse. It will cost in excess of £450,000.
‘We don’t have that kind of spare cash; any spare money has been spent on building classrooms in the primary sector as we inherited more than a 1,000 primary school place shortage last year.’
Lib Dem group leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson questioned why the council has money to splash on properties in other counties and not for improvements in its own city.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘If there isn’t £450,000 to support North End, why is there £14m to buy a Waitrose store in Somerset?
‘Maybe North End needs to be the priority, and not Somerset.’
But he said improvement works carried out by both the Lib Dems and Tories had helped boost traders in areas like Cosham High Street and Osborne Road.