Traders’ worry as McDonald’s leaves shopping precinct

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TRADERS fear the loss of a fast food restaurant has put the future of a shopping precinct in doubt.

McDonald’s in London Road, North End, closed on Saturday after 25 years of trading there.

McDonalds in North End

McDonalds in North End

This latest business closure has sparked an urgent review from Portsmouth City Council into the parking situation along the street.

Grant Copper, who owned the McDonald’s franchise in North End, said it had been a difficult decision to close.

He said: ‘It was not taken lightly, especially having traded there for over 25 years.

‘We continually review the position of our restaurants and unfortunately London Road is no longer a viable location for us.’

Traders along the road said the closure was proof a council scheme to widen the pavements in April 2012, which cost £400,000 and removed on-street parking, has killed the once-busy street.

Simon Bratby, who runs Pet Price in London Road, said he lost 30 per cent of trade ‘overnight’ when the pavements were completed because of the loss of parking.

He said: ‘If McDonald’s can’t make a go of it then it does make you wonder.

‘The biggest issue here is parking. The road is so narrow and there’s often a problem with people parked on yellow lines and emergency services getting through.

‘The council could make the parking more accessible or free or put up better signs.

‘They do need to do something as there are more and more shops closing down.’

The British Heart Foundation had a large store on the corner of Stubbington Avenue which also closed in December.

KFC opposite McDonald’s closed in 2012.

Rob Hardwick, from Solent Cables Limited in London Road, said: ‘I am sure there is something the council could do to encourage people to come here. It just seems that everything is anti-us.’

Lee Cross, who works for The Furniture Factory in London Road, said parking was a big issue for his customers, as the nearest spaces are in residential streets or at Aldi.

He said the council should do more to attract big-name retailers to the stretch.

He said: ‘The problem we have got is there are lots of charity shops, hairdressers and food establishments and there’s not many big names.

‘Peacocks, Superdrug and QS are the biggest names in North End and that’s a shame.

‘If it continues it will turn into even more of a secondary shopping location than it is already.’

Council leader Donna Jones promised action.

She said: ‘The pavement widening brought in by the last Lib Dem administration has seriously affected the viability of businesses in North End.

‘The loss of McDonald’s is another blow to North End which is already struggling to retain big high street names.

‘Therefore an urgent review needs to be carried out on the road scheme.’

She said the council would look at potentially reversing the wider pavements, increasing the number of off-street parking spaces and bringing in free parking for 30 minutes.