Jobs, transport and growing the town centre are election issues in Gosport

Gosport High Street.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141295-2) PPP-140430-152438003
Gosport High Street.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141295-2) PPP-140430-152438003
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Boosting the number of jobs, sorting out the roads and rejuvenating Gosport town centre.

These are the key issues voters have identified ahead of the Gosport Borough Council elections next week.

And all of these are linked to the borough’s prosperity.

Around 3,500 jobs are just around the corner at the Solent Enterprise Zone, at the former HMS Daedalus airfield. A £90m road package, including a long-feted Stubbington bypass, has been put on the table.

Around £100,000 in government cash is helping Gosport’s struggling town centre with new firms opening in empty shops, while a new post office is on the way. And the regeneration of Gosport’s waterfront is kicking off with an Aldi set for the site of the Mayfield buildings, off Mumby Road.

But voters say that jobs, shopping in Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent, and the traffic concerns are all connected.

Lee-on-the-Solent resident Martin Marks, 68, said: ‘We certainly do need more jobs in Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent so that people do not have to commute.

‘But then we go into a circle with needing more houses.’

And more houses would mean more people needing jobs – so all the issues need to be tackled together.

Rick Barter is co-ordinator of Lee Business Association and runs The Book Shop in the town’s high street.

He said small and medium businesses, such as high street shops, create jobs.

He said: ‘It’s fine to have the enterprise zone at Daedalus but what about the small and medium businesses that are here already?

‘It’s very easy for the council to lose track of that and to focus on getting new business in to the area.’

He added: ‘We are lucky to have a thriving, active high street in this area.

‘We take it for granted at our own peril. If the council don’t do more to keep retail in our high street, then it will be gone.’

Mr Marks added: ‘It’s absolutely vital that our high street shops survive.’

But residents want to know how borough councillors will fight to improve bus routes that older people rely on to get into shopping centres.

John Field, 49, of Pavilion Way, Gosport, said recent cuts have left older people, including his relatives, stranded in some parts of Gosport.

He said: ‘Councillors should be fighting. We do need good transport.

‘They keep on chopping and changing the routes.

‘Older people are stuck, they can’t go anywhere.’

And while voters want to see buses on the roads, they also want to know what’s happening to the bus station at the waterfront.

Council’s job limited

SORTING out traffic problems, helping schools and managing libraries.

These are all things that elected councillors at Gosport Borough Council have no control over.

The authority has limited responsibilities, and beyond them can only make representations to Hampshire County Council and other bodies, which runs those services.

But it is in charge of collecting the bins from your home, council housing, collecting council tax (on behalf of itself and others), keeping play areas neat and tidy, and administering planning applications.

The borough council is also responsible for bus shelters, handing out grants (although it no longer does so), allotments and off-street car parking.

So if you’re voting at the polls next Thursday it might be worth remembering that people vying for your vote may not have direct input on certain things in Gosport.

Polls open at 7am on Thursday and close at 10pm.

Voters urge councillors to be more transparent

IN AN area that bore the brunt of the expenses scandal, trust in politicians can be low.

The fallout from former Gosport MP Sir Peter Viggers’ attempt to claim for a more than £1,600 duck house is still very much in the air.

But that can mask the hard work local councillors do for the communities that elect them.

For resident and Gosport businessman Graham Jacobs, politicians should be about making things happen in the area – not petty political squabbles.

He said: ‘The key for me, and it’s something I’ve been banging on about, is transparency from the council.

‘It just seems that it’s a boys’ club.

‘They should stick their head above the parapet, asking what would we like to see.’

And Mr Jacobs, whose father Colin Jacobs is stepping down as a councillor this year, added: ‘If you speak to the average in person in Elson and Rowner they just to know their bins are going to be emptied.

‘What the council really lacks is forward thinking.’