Traders say cafe culture plan for Southsea road may lead to trouble

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Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan at the Scrap The Cap rally, held in Guildhall Square

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PLANS to promote a cafe culture in Southsea could turn Palmerston Road into another Guildhall Walk according to retailers.

Southsea Retail Steering Group has criticised Portsmouth City Council’s plans to spend £470,000 on a revamp of the southern end of the street.

It believes work on Osborne Road should take priority.

Its leader Simone McKeon, who has written to the council to complain, said: ‘We do fear that Palmerston Road south will become a second Guildhall Walk.

‘There are lots of bars down there and we fear it will lead to drunkenness and bad behaviour.

‘We don’t understand why the council won’t either do the work on Osborne Road at the same time, or first. That’s where the restaurants are, and this is supposed to be the restaurant quarter.’

The council plans to block Palmerston Road to all traffic except bikes, taxis and buses, widen pavements and lifting the level of the road to that of the pavements. It’s hoped the move will encourage bars, cafes and restaurants to set up tables outdoors.

Councillors have assured businesses they will carry out pavement widening work on Osborne Road as soon as more money becomes available.

But Ms McKeon said: ‘We just fear the whole area will become a drinking area rather than a restaurant quarter if Palmerston Road is done first.

‘We are pleased money’s being spent here. We just think the order of the work should be reconsidered.’

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson disagreed with the steering group’s claim.

He said: ‘We pedestrianised the north end of Palmerston Road and that doesn’t look like Guildhall Walk.

‘If we could have done all the schemes at once, we would have. But the money isn’t there yet.

‘As soon as it is, we’ll carry out the Osborne Road work.

‘It’s a shame, because it seems as though businesses are competing with one another, when we believe working together achieves a great deal more.’