Traders hit out in row over lack of Christmas lights

A picture taken inside the Decathlon store at Portsmouth Retail park. Credit: Decathlon UK

New Decathlon store in Portsmouth will open tomorrow – a week early

Have your say

STRUGGLING businesses have criticised the council for not injecting enough festive spirit to attract shoppers to Havant town centre.

Traders are angry that no Christmas lights have been put up in North Street.

North Street in Havant

North Street in Havant

Jez Baker, 52, who has run The One Stop Party Shop for two years, is closing for good at New Year because he says North Street has become a ghost town.

Don Hawkins, 81, who runs Sovereign Carpets and has been trading in the town centre for 50 years, is also calling it a day this Christmas.

Mr Baker said: ‘I reckon Ebenezer Scrooge would spend more on lights in Havant to promote people to come here. There’s about 120 light bulbs stuck in a tree in Market Parade.

‘Apart from that there’s nothing – not a single light bulb. In North Street it’s a case of spot the light bulb.’

Mr Baker pays £13,500 a year in business rates, which he cannot afford on top of rent.

He said: ‘It’s not my business that has failed. Turnover is up 20 per cent from my first year. I believe it is an area worth saving, but it needs the council and councillors to get involved and say “We need help”.’

Mr Hawkins said: ‘There’s no way we can continue here. There’s no footfall. The council are letting this end of the town die without doing anything about it.’

Terry Jordan, chairman of Havant Business Association, said the group offered to pay £500 towards lights in North Street, but was told by the council there were not enough power points.

Dan Grindley, service manager for economic development at the council, said: ‘We collaborate with local businesses to support the delivery of Christmas lights across the borough.

‘The main displays in Havant are located in West Street, the Meridian Centre and Market Parade.

‘We understand trading conditions are challenging, however the council supports local business in number of ways including a start-up grants programme and events and initiatives to increase footfall and trade. In particular the council recently supported Small Business Saturday by offering three hours free parking in all council car parks.’