Fareham MP and Portchester traders meet to 'stop negativity' and find solutions for troubled precinct
THE MP for Fareham, councillors, and members of Portchester Traders Association have meet to discuss plans to turn around the fortunes of a precinct facing an uncertain future.
Suella Braverman met representatives from the area to discuss ways to improve Portchester shopping precinct in West Street.
It comes as the area is set to lose a bank, a post office, a supermarket, and its cash machines within the space of nine months.
Shoppers and residents have warned the area risks becoming a ‘ghost town’ – but it’s time to ‘stop the negativity,’ according to Darren Beames, the chairman of the Portchester Traders Association.
He said: ‘You have people being negative about Fareham and Portchester, but when you’re looking to attract businesses to the area, you need positivity.
‘We have traders that have been here for more than 40 years, and we have four or five businesses who have started up fairly recently.
‘We have some niche shops here that you cannot find elsewhere.’
Branches of Co-op, McColl’s, and Lloyds are all due to shut this year – but traders and politicians are fighting back against the series of store closures, with a plan to apply for a series of grants to support the area.
Amanda Kent, secretary of Portchester Traders Association and owner of Solent Shoes, said: ‘Even small pots of money can make a difference. For example, applying to have a map of shops in the precinct would help. Little things can make a big difference.
‘And we are looking at holding more events throughout the year.
‘We want to be proactive in improving the precinct ourselves.’
The association is considering applying for grants from the Parish Town Investment fund, the Recreation and Heritage Community Fund, and the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, thanks to suggestions from Mrs Braverman.
The MP, who has represented Fareham since 2015, said: ‘Thank you to the Portchester traders for a useful meeting about how we can work together to improve the precinct.
‘It was wonderful to meet the great men and women who are running small and independent stores in Portchester during these challenging times for high streets.’
Councillor Roger Price, who attended the meeting on Friday, March 6 alongside Councillor Susan Bell, said there was ‘a lot of work happening behind the scenes,’ including one shop applying to a host a new post office branch.
He said: ‘The issue is that we are all working together to find the solutions to improve the area.’
The Department for Transport is due to make a decision on Hampshire County Council’s proposed transport improvements through the South East Rapid Transport System in the coming months.
The improvements could see the expansion of the bus station on Castle Street roundabout.