Traders scrap legal fight over Southsea road changes

Traders (l-r) Sandy Peters from Sopranos, Marion Wren from Preloved, Yusuf Ali from Akram Spice Centre and Kirsten Woodgate from Woodgate & Co Solicitors, in Palmerston Road in Southsea.''Picture: Sarah Standing (14430-1108) PPP-140213-161702001
Traders (l-r) Sandy Peters from Sopranos, Marion Wren from Preloved, Yusuf Ali from Akram Spice Centre and Kirsten Woodgate from Woodgate & Co Solicitors, in Palmerston Road in Southsea.''Picture: Sarah Standing (14430-1108) PPP-140213-161702001
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TRADERS are no longer taking the city council to court over the way a pedestrian zone was introduced.

As reported in The News, businesses in the southern precinct of Palmerston Road, in Southsea, wanted to take legal action against Portsmouth City Council over how it brought in the car-free street and the effects owners say it’s had on business.

A solicitor initially told firms launching a judicial review that losing the case to the council would cost around £5,000. But it was revealed at a private meeting between employers that the final costs could not actually be determined – so firm owners have decided to stand down.

Sandy Peters, owner of Soprano’s restaurant in Palmerston Road, said: ‘It’s very disappointing.

‘It would have cost an awful lot of money and because people are suffering with their businesses, they can’t afford it.

‘It’s just unfair the council won’t listen to us. It doesn’t agree the road has a detrimental effect on the area.’

Cash already put forward by shops towards the case has been swallowed up in fees incurred by correspondence between local solicitors Woodgate and Co and Birmingham-based firm Spencer Shaw Solicitors, which would have taken up the traders’ case.

Linda Symes, who has campaigned on behalf of shops, said the outcome was disappointing – but knew it would have always been an uphill battle.

‘It was always going to be a David and Goliath situation so I wasn’t immediately surprised,’ she said.

‘It’s a pity that the legal system is such that it’s determined by who has the most money, rather than by the merits of the case.’

Shops wanted to take action because they felt a consultation carried out into the pedestrianisation of the road in 2011 was flawed.

The council insists it followed the correct procedures.

Firms also say they have experienced a huge downturn in trade since it was brought in and there are problems with antisocial behaviour.

Following further consultation, the council is to fully pedestrianise the precinct this summer.