A COUNCILLOR has asked the local MP to secure £1m a year in government funds to help bring life back into a shopping area.
Councillor Luke Stubbs has asked Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt for her support following the announcement that the Co-op in London Road is closing.
Portsmouth City Council can no longer afford to increase spending on anythingCouncillor Luke Stubbs
In the letter, Cllr Stubbs said: ‘Given the scale of reductions that local government has had to bear as part of the drive to rebalance the national deficit, Portsmouth City Council simply can no longer afford to substantially increase spending on anything, town centres included.
‘By 2019/20 the council will have lost over half its budget, benefiting the exchequer by around £100m a year.
‘The solution to North End’s problems surely is for the chancellor to use some of this windfall to finance improvements there.
‘I am therefore calling on you to secure £1m a year from central government to do just that.’
Ms Mordaunt said it was important that the council applies for funds which already exist such as the Power to Change scheme, which is run by the National Lottery and exists to regenerate high streets.
‘I’m very happy to ask the chancellor for money in the budget or in the comprehensive spending review,’ she said.
‘We have already committed in our manifesto for money for town centre initiatives.
‘But there are already some really practical things that won’t cost the council anything that they can do now.
‘They can apply for funds that already exist to support town centres.’
And Ms Mordaunt said the council should look at giving holidays for business rates.
‘I don’t believe it’s cheaper for the council to have empty shops than for them to give people a business rate holiday,’ she added.
‘It’s much more cost effective for the council.
‘We have got some great businesses there. There are some fantastic shops and great traders.
‘We have got to provide some support to those businesses, some of which have been there for a long time.
‘Let’s do what we can now. We have got to start getting some results.’
Ms Mordaunt said she has already been working with traders about things they can do to bring more people to the area.
The Co-operative store is due to shut on October 17.