A CONTROVERSIAL pedestrian zone has been opened back up to traffic – despite calls for it to shut completely to traffic.
Portsmouth City Council will fork out £20,000 making Palmerston Road a one-way route for traffic from the seafront.
The move by Tory cabinet member for traffic, Cllr Ken Ellcome, comes after businesses highlighted the crippling impact the pedestrian route has had on trade since it was introduced in 2012.
Tory Councillor Linda Symes, who represents the area, read out a letter by Akram’s Oriential Supermarket revealing it had been close to moving out the area.
But Cllr Symes admitted she was neither for or against the closure, and just wanted to see a proper consultation carried out once Cllr Ellcome’s decision is reviewed in a year.
As reported, the council used £500,000 of government cash to introduce the scheme in order to promote a cafe culture.
But other firms feel the zone, which buses have still been allowed down, should have been completely closed to allow businesses to finally fulfil the council’s objective.
Kelly Wall, daytime manager for Drift Bar, said: ‘If we could have had a larger seating area then we could have attracted so many more people to Palmerston Road.
‘People will rather have a quiet coffee in the precinct in the northern end of the road than have one in an area with exhaust fumes. It’s going to take trade away.’
Resident Malcolm Reeves, 75, has been part of the task force set up to help improve issues with the precinct.
‘I was in favour of it being fully pedestrianised,’ he said.
‘The council could have shut it off and made it a restaurant area.’
Jon Spencer, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said he was in favour of the road reopening, but only if the design upheld safety.
The introduction of cyclists needs approval first from the department for transport.
Meanwhile, the go ahead was given to a £700,000 improvement scheme in Osborne Road. As reported, widened footpaths, a new bus shelter, trees and improved lighting will be brought in.