Unhappy traders want to see end to Southsea pedestrian zone problems

CONTROVERSIAL The pedestrianisation of Palmerston Road has been unpopular since it was introduced last year. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (121674-744)
CONTROVERSIAL The pedestrianisation of Palmerston Road has been unpopular since it was introduced last year. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (121674-744)
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UNHAPPY businesses in a controversial pedestrian zone have sent out a clear message: serious changes have to be made.

A survey by The News shows 24 of the 31 firms in the south end of Palmerston Road, in Southsea – a total of 77 per cent – are unhappy with the restrictions as they are.

Thirteen companies want the road opened back up to traffic and another 12 want the pedestrian zone shut off to buses and extended down to Auckland Road East and West.

Eight of those 12 in favour of an extension say the current restrictions are dangerous because accidents are almost being caused by vehicles being unclear about where to go.

Just two businesses don’t want changes to be made to the zone, which is currently shut to all traffic except buses.

Four businesses didn’t give an opinion.

Problems are also being blamed on the area, which was supposed to promote a ‘cafe culture’, becoming a hub for drinkers.

As reported, some firms claim there has been a 50 per cent drop in trade and Akram’s Oriental Supermarket says it could close in six months if the £470,000 scheme, introduced early last year, isn’t scrapped.

Tommy Peters, director of Soprano’s restaurant, said the pedestrian zone has ‘ghettoised’ the area.

‘The council wanted to create a cafe culture, however it has done the opposite, it has created a Guildhall Walk mark II,’ he said.

‘Customers don’t want to come here because of the bad atmosphere. The reduced access means that not even locals are able to get down here.’

‘It has ghettoised the area and created a drinking culture.’

Harry Davies, of Restaurant 69, said: ‘The council can’t seem to decide what it wants. We need a completely pedestrianised street and allow loading until 11am.

‘The idea behind promoting the cafe culture doesn’t work because of the buses that are still coming down the street.’

Portsmouth City Council wants to changes based on a survey its done which attracted a similar response.

Barriers could be installed at both ends of the zone to stop cars getting in after deliveries finish at 11am and buses would be diverted via Clarendon Road.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, said: ‘People on the whole are unhappy with things. The survey we did showed more people wanted it pedestrianised than not wanted it pedestrianised.’

STRATEGIC DIRECTOR BLAMES PUBS FOR LATE-NIGHT ISSUES

A SENIOR council official has dismissed talk of problems surrounding late-night drinking in Palmerston Road being caused by the pedestrian zone.

Kathy Wadsworth, strategic director for regeneration, who was influential in the creation of the scheme, said: ‘Anti-social behaviour at night has got nothing to do with the road being pedestrianised.

‘That’s got something to do with some of the investment that’s gone into the pubs there and the fact they are staying open for longer.’