Calls to clean up ‘grubby’ Portsmouth city centre

CALLS have been made to clean up the ‘appalling’ state of a filthy railway station delivering thousands of people into the city each day.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 12:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 1:36 pm
Pictured is: Portsmouth Station. Picture: Keith Woodland (090319-16)

Portsmouth City Council has hit out at Network Rail and South Western Railway for the current condition of Portsmouth and Southsea station, saying its state is ‘detrimental’ to the look of the city.

Gleaming new-build student tower blocks have been built just yards away.

But residents and shoppers in the city centre told The News the council must play its part – describing the city centre as tired and grubby.

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Pictured is: Filthy seating near the war memorial. Picture: Keith Woodland (090319-33)

Network Rail has insisted it will clean up the station next month.

Photos show the poor condition of the Charles Dickens statue in Guildhall Square, crumbling steps leading to the civic offices, graffiti in Commercial Road and mouldy-looking  seating near the war memorial.

Simon Wilson, 30, from Fratton, said: ‘The city centre is starting to look a bit tired, and with more shops disappearing it does look a bit bleak at times.

‘I think a good clean-up might help create a brighter atmosphere in the city.’

Pictured is: Charles Dickens statue in need of a clean. Picture: Keith Woodland (090319-38)

In his letter, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development, Councillor Ben Dowling, said: ‘The appalling visual state of this structure is increasingly detrimental to the immediate area and the city centre as a whole.

‘This is now particularly stark as the immediate area's public realm is having significant investment from the council and developers.’

He said the station must be ‘fit for purpose’ as a gateway into Portsmouth.

Passerby Liam Smith, 24, from Portsmouth, added: ‘The city centre could definitely do with a clean-up.

‘Walking through the area it feels grey and drab – and some parts like the war memorial and the fountain in Commercial Road do look grubby.

‘Even just a power wash could make it a lot more cheerful.’

Mike Gilbert, from Berkshire, recently visited Portsmouth for the first time in 30 years.

Mr Gilbert said: ‘There are lovely buildings and a lot of potential in the city centre.

‘But the paving and everything else here just looks so old and tired – it could do with a clean to breathe some more life into it.’

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said there is money available to clean up the area – but blames government funding cuts.

He said: ‘There is £200,000 available to redo the whole area around the war memorial and we are working with Pompey Pals to discuss how best to do it.

‘Getting rid of Drift Bar had a much more dramatic impact than I thought it would, and the city centre could be better.

‘That being said, I think it’s much less grubby than other cities I have visited, and we have lost £102m of government funding  – leading to cuts that we didn’t want to make.

‘Unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to think that clean streets are a priority.’

Network Rail, said it is cleaning drains and applying a protective paint to the station exterior when work begins on the Landport Viaduct, after a new funding period begins next month.

A spokesman said: ‘We appreciate the concerns about the front of Portsmouth and Southsea station and we are working to try and improve its appearance.’