Waterlooville launches a defence after "dead town" attack in Telegraph takedown article

A local councillor has defended Waterlooville town centre after a national paper wrote a scathing article on the state of its high street.
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Conservative councillor, Gwen Robinson, of Havant Borough Council believes the future is bright for Waterlooville town centre despite an article by The Telegraph which described it as a "dead town". The piece by Christopher Howse looked through the history of the town, charting its rise and fall while also speaking to a local business owner. The overall impression given was that Waterlooville was a desolate, dystopian, barren wasteland.

Anyone who has been through Wellington Way in the centre of the high street will know that it has not been in a good state for a number of years. There are more boarded up shops than there are functioning ones. While there is no getting away from that, Cllr Robinson was frustrated that the author made no attempt to see the other side of the story. She said: "It did disappoint me. If he had contacted myself or one of our officers, we would have met him down there and talked him through everything that we are doing to breathe some life into it. "To me, it was strange journalism, apart from a historic trip down memory lane it didn't really offer anything more than what you could get online or at the Waterlooville Historical Society and some of his information wasn't entirely accurate. I didn't quite get the article if I am totally honest with you. I understand he is travelling the country looking at all the high streets and there will be some that are better than ours, and I presume there will be some that are worse than ours. However, to not speak to any of us and ask what we are doing about it, we would have happily walked him round.

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"He mentioned briefly the festival of ideas but if he would have spoken to us we would have said that in March we are doing follow up work to that for the residents where they can get some feedback on the initial consultation. To me, it wasn't what I would expect from a newspaper but maybe I am reading the wrong newspapers."

Councillor Gwen Robinson has defended Waterlooville after a scathing article appeared in The Telegraph.Councillor Gwen Robinson has defended Waterlooville after a scathing article appeared in The Telegraph.
Councillor Gwen Robinson has defended Waterlooville after a scathing article appeared in The Telegraph.

While planning work continues for the developments of Willington Way and the town centre, Cllr Robinson is hoping that they will be able to invite the journalist back again to show him the changes. She said: "We are going to invite Christopher Howse to do a follow-up piece as the work progresses. I am sure if he comes along in 12 months time he will see quite a different look."

Jackie Buckley is a retired resident who used to be the lead for the Waterlooville Events Team, a voluntary group that helped run bandstands, summer fetes, and Christmas do's. She agreed with some of the aspects of the article but feels that the future is brighter than the dark scene it portrayed. She said: "Sadly it seems to paint a very bad picture for Waterlooville. But, of course, things are not good in Waterlooville at the moment, that's why there is all this regeneration proposals going ahead so that we can improve things.

"They are doing a lot of consultations with local residents to try and improve things. We have been meeting the local community to try and keep the pressure on the council so things will improve in the future, and we don't get forgotten as Waterlooville has been in the past."

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The state of local high streets is a debate that has long rumbled on and is very much a national issue. However, Cllr Robinson believes there is still a future for them. She said: "I personally feel that the high streets are not dead they just have to reinvent themselves. Our plan is to look at it and see how we can create a social community space. People do still want to come out even though they can get stuff online. The retail parks have a place, to my mind the high street just needs to offer something a little bit different and that is what we are trying to do here."

Waterlooville town centreWaterlooville town centre
Waterlooville town centre

Havant Borough Council have announced a gallery and exhibition in March where residents will be able to view the latest draft content for the Waterlooville Masterplan and provide any feedback. This will take place in the old Game shop on the following dates:

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