Firms’ objections could scupper ‘cafe culture’ bid

Palmerston Road in Southsea.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (112605-3)
Palmerston Road in Southsea. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (112605-3)

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PLANS to part-pedestrianise a Southsea street could be scrapped after a petition was handed in against it.

Almost two-thirds of the businesses most likely to be affected by the proposals have added their names to the 186-signature petition, which was handed to Portsmouth City Council this week.

Peter Young, who owns Hong Kong Charlie’s Vodka Bar on Palmerston Road, collected the signatures.

He said: ‘It shows businesses don’t want it. Fourteen out of 22 who would be affected oppose the scheme. But the council always said it was because businesses want it that they are planning it.’

The council wants to spend £470,000 to widen pavements on the south end of the street, in a bid to create a ‘cafe culture’.

It would also ban all traffic, except buses, bikes and delivery lorries, from using the road, and move taxi ranks to other nearby locations.

Its cabinet, and full council, has approved the plans, which are now out for public consultation.

When the scheme was suggested in the summer, the only opponents were business owners in Osborne Road, who said their road was in greater need of improvements.

Mr Young’s petition and complaints mark the first challenge from Palmerston Road itself.

He said: ‘It’s a waste of money.

‘Young people walk here after getting drunk on the beach.

‘They’ll walk up here, sit at the tables outside, and eat food and drink they bought in a shop, not in our establishments.

‘If we ask them to move, we’ll be sworn at. We also believe if fewer cars come down here, there will be less business, and we’ll all suffer.’

The council’s city centre manager, Barry Walker, said the plans for Palmerston Road are ‘to help local businesses by making it more attractive to pedestrians’.

‘No decisions have been made yet,’ he said.

‘Nothing is set in stone. Consultation continues and the affected businesses in Palmerston Road were individually consulted last July. The proposals are based on what people told us they want. But we’re happy to carry on listening to views, as that’s the aim of the exercise.’

If it goes ahead, work on would start in February 2012, and is targeted to be finished by May 2012.