CONCRETE planters in Southsea’s controversial pedestrian zone which cost taxpayers’ tens of thousands of pounds could be ripped out because of problems with anti-social behaviour.
Portsmouth City Council forked out £26,000 on seven permanent flower beds at the south end of Palmerston Road just 18 months ago to help make the area more attractive.
But because there have been problems with them being mistreated, council officers are now looking to get rid of them. That has led to critics attacking the idea, who feel the planters have been a huge waste of money, especially when £10m worth of cuts are being made by the council and vital services are having their funding axed.
Linda Symes, of Clifton Road, who collected more than 1,400 names of people against the pedestrian zone in Palmerston Road, said: ‘The concrete planters are being used as a receptacle for cigarette ends and are being used by people to go to the toilet and be sick in.
‘The council could have put trees there instead and that would have given the place a nicer feel.
‘We are having to close things down and reduce services in the city, yet money can be thrown away like this all because the council didn’t think to do its homework.
‘If it had, it would have realised putting planters in there would have been a terrible error.’
It comes after £9,000 was spent installing bollards at the end of nearby Lennox Road South earlier this year to stop lorries going through in order to access the seafront. As previously reported, they had to be removed after three months following a warning from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service that its fire engines wouldn’t be able to drive through the road.
Cllr Luke Stubbs, Portsmouth’s deputy Conservative group leader, said: ‘Money has already been wasted closing and re-opening Lennox Road South, and this is at a time when we are closing public toilets because we can’t afford to keep them running all year.’
Marion Wren, owner of Preloved Portsmouth, said: ‘I want the high street opened up and the planters could be replaced with some parking spaces,’ she said. ‘It’s a ghost town out there. The road used to be buzzing.’
Portsmouth South MP and city councillor, Mike Hancock says it was more important that the council got things right. He said any plans for planters to be built as part of the improvement of Osborne Road should be reconsidered because the same problems would be created.
‘It seems we have to rethink the whole idea of what we are going to do,’ he said.
‘If we have done something and we genuinely appreciate that it’s a mistake, that problems are being caused and the quality of the setting is being affected, then the best way forward would be to take the planters out.
‘People thought the planters would improve Palmerston Road, but they have turned out to be a focal point for problems. We have to make sure the same mistake isn’t made in Osborne Road.’
The matter will be debated at a future council meeting.
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