Less talk and more action to help out our traders

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So, two more businesses have shut in London Road, North End – the Portsmouth shopping district which just a couple of decades ago was a thriving hub.

The demise of ice cream parlour Wicked Waffle and Italian restaurant Mammalena might not be of much signifcance to the wider world.

However, it is most certainly another blow to Portsmouth’s economy.

Remember, their closure, as reported today on page 14, comes after bank HSBC, McDonald’s and KFC have quit the street.

This latest news comes at a time when we are trying to lure shoppers to the area’s district retail areas and encourage people to spend money to inject growth into high streets.

Earlier this year we welcomed the government increasing business rate relief for small firms to £1,500, but there are clearly many challenges yet to be overcome.

People are spending less cash and are increasingly doing their shopping on the internet where having to pay for parking is not a bone of contention.

And it is that issue which is regarded by North End traders as integral to the retail district’s decline.

A lack of variety and big-name firms is also not helping to advertise our community shopping areas as places to be.

More often than not we are hearing bad news about the future of Portsmouth’s retail scene. The £300m plan to turn the Northern Quarter into a thriving shopping complex now seems dead in the water after 10 years of planning.

It is frustrating, especially with the continued success of WestQuay, just 20 miles along the M27 in Southampton, which is getting millions of pounds of investment to enable it to expand further.

It’s encouraging to hear Portsmouth City Council wants to improve the look of Portsmouth city centre to entice shoppers to visit and find ways to better promote the smaller shopping areas.

But we need less talk and more action – a lick of paint won’t hide empty shops and a lack of mixed retailing will ultimately fail to pull in customers.