BUSINESSES in a town centre have been urged to smarten up their appearance to attract more shoppers.
Around 20 traders in Havant have received letters from Havant Borough Council.
Council officers went round the town centre and took photographs of properties with peeling paintwork and graffiti.
Havant councillors Jackie Branson and Tim Pike then personally delivered the letters and accompanying photographs to businesses.
The letters state there is ‘a strong relationship between the visual appearance of a town centre and economic success’ and asks traders to address any aesthetic issues with the shop frontage.
They said the response so far had been largely positive as traders are glad the council is taking an interest in the town centre.
The scheme may be rolled out to Waterlooville, Leigh Park, Emsworth and Hayling Island.
Cllr Branson said: ‘It’s about making Havant look more presentable.
‘The brighter and nicer it looks the more chance that people will want to shop here.
‘Everybody we have spoken to has been happy to go along with it.
‘We have started it in Havant but it will probably go across the whole borough.’
Cllr Pike said: ‘With online competition, the town centre needs to offer more than just making the purchase.
‘It has to be a nice environment.’
Around one in 10 shops in Havant is currently empty – below the national average – but the council wants to get all the units filled.
Cllr Branson said Havant sometimes got a bad name, with shoppers choosing Portsmouth or Chichester instead.
She said: ‘Havant town centre is underrated.
‘You can buy anything you want in Havant.’
Wendy Lake, manager of La Bonne Baguette, which received a letter, said: ‘Ours was already in hand when they gave us the letter.
‘The town centre is looking cleaner – it’s what Havant needed.’