Funding bid will pay for exhibition in empty Portsmouth shop

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PLANS have been put forward to set up a temporary exhibition in Paulsgrove on the First World War.

The city council has submitted a bid for money to the Heritage Lottery Fund to create the educational display in Allaway Avenue, Paulsgrove.

The idea was suggested by Ukip councillor Julie Swan, who wants to see the street injected with new life.

She hopes a display from the City Museum about the First World War could go in an empty shop and an online archive created so residents can learn more about their relatives from that period.

Cllr Swan, chairwoman of a panel carrying out a review of the city’s shopping districts, said: ‘Allaway Avenue is not a busy shopping precinct but it ought to be.

‘It’s the centre of a big community and we have got empty properties there.

‘I want to see a mix of temporary spaces being used in Cosham, Fratton, across various areas.

‘It so happens that the council owns property in Paulsgrove, so it means we could potentially put something like this there.’

The panel held a meeting to hear more about the ways the council is trying to boost local shops.

Form-filling in order to hold an event in high streets has been condensed and made more user-friendly.

The council has an ‘eyesore’ working group, which puts pressure on property landlords to clean up and refurbish buildings if they are bringing down an area.

And the panel is to put forward recommendations for how it thinks further improvements should be made in the coming months.

As reported, as part of the Autumn Statement, chancellor George Osborne revealed there would be a review into the way business rates are calculated.

It follows a campaign by The News highlighting how the current system is crippling local high streets.

Cllr Swan said she thought the announcement was ‘hot air’ given it will still be years before any action.

But she stressed the importance of change.

‘Studies have shown that for every 10p spent in local shops, 8p stays in the area, whereas if you go to big retailers the sums drop considerably,’ she said.