RESIDENTS' parking zones have been a hot topic in Portsmouth for years.
But this week's traffic and transport meeting – at which the parking fates of hundreds of homeowners across Southsea was decided – was the most lively meeting I've seen this year.
More than 30 members of the public attended to find out if permits would be needed to park in zones MB and MC, covering swathes of Southsea.
Several also made deputations with a split between those who wanted the zones and those who didn't.
Cabinet member for traffic, Councillor Lynne Stagg, made the final decision to implement the zones. However, she knew they would be divisive.
Speaking after the meeting she said: ‘It’s a very contentious thing. There’s no one answer. But if we don’t have the zones a lot of people complain that they have nowhere to park but if we do, we get people complaining for other reasons.
‘Some people have it in their minds that it’s a fiddle and that we’re raising money from it. If we were to get any profit from it it could go towards subsidising the buses.
‘Unfortunately life revolves around cars. I did want this job but I knew it would be a poisoned chalice.’
MB and MC zones will be implemented on January 2 next year.
Housing also proved to be contentious this week as plans to turn former tax office, Wingfield House, on Commercial Road into a block of 'micro-flats'.
The designs submitted by PLC Architects raised concerns as the majority of its flats would only cover 21.7sq m each, with its smallest at 19 sq m.
This is significantly under the government regulation for new homes of 37sq m. But PLC Architects are within their rights to bypass this due to a loophole that means the rule does not apply to office block conversions.
Housing boss Cllr Darren Sanders wasn't impressed by the proposals. ‘They’re asking people to put their entire life in a space that is significantly below what we would normally allow,' he said.
'I hope the committee will reject the application. But then I hope they can work with the developers to create something more suitable.
‘We do need homes but we need homes that people want to live in rather than cramming them into something the size of a broom cupboard. It’s not on.’
A date for the decision has not been set yet.
One decision that will be made soon is whether or not to amend the licence for Gisors Restaurant on Marmion Road to allow longer opening hours.
The venue's owner, Charles Tourres, is seeking permission to increase its trading hours, including the sale of alcohol, until 10pm on Sundays and 11pm on all other nights.
But 11 objections have been raised by the site's neighbours.
Chris Bulman, of Marmion Road, said: ‘I feel this application has been made purely for the profit of one individual and does not increase the appeal of the area, but negatively impacts residents with more night time activities taking place.
‘The increased hours will mean more people spilling onto the street, more noise and in turn increase the possibility of anti social behaviour, especially as the bar now has a larger customer capacity.’
Councillors will decide on the licence application on Thursday, November 1.