CALLS have been made for a package of benefits to come to a Portsmouth shopping area on the back of shop closures.
City Tory MP Penny Mordaunt believes ‘basics are missing’ in North End and traders are concerned about the lack of footfall.
And she is urging the city council to do more to improve parking and encourage workers to visit the area.
It comes after McDonald’s and HSBC announced they were leaving London Road.
But Ms Mordaunt has been reminded the budget is tight – and criticised given she is a junior local government minister and the department has imposed council cuts.
She said: ‘We are missing some basics in North End – the recent changes to the high street have meant that parking is a real problem and some traders tell me has reduced their footfall by as much as 30 per cent. We would also benefit from some dedicated street wardens to tackle street drinking and petty crime.
‘North End has a strong social scene, we could develop a cultural offer for the area, or have a market, or fill some of the empty shops with a number of traders currently selling from a stalls, install free wifi, or it could become a hub for click and collect.
‘The council needs to incentivise the traders – who have had too many false starts before – to get involved.’
Cllr John Ferrett, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North, said: ‘I have spoken to the council leader, and she tells me the MP has made no attempt to contact her, or anyone else in the administration before making these criticisms. It also seems incredible that a Conservative minister, working in the department that is forcing the council to make huge cuts in public spending, then criticises the council over the difficult choices it has been required to make.’
Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy council leader, said: ‘We will do what we can with the limited resources we have.
‘When providing more parking, we have to be mindful of the extremely tight budget we have.’
Cllr Donna Jones, council leader, insisted she had been in touch with Ms Mordaunt about ongoing issues in the city.