Pedestrian zone could spell end of family-run Southsea shop

FEARS FOR FUTURE Yusuf Ali, co-owner of Akram's, in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133267-564)
FEARS FOR FUTURE Yusuf Ali, co-owner of Akram's, in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133267-564)
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IT’S a family-run business that’s been going strong for 40 years.

But Akram’s Oriental Supermarket, in Palmerston Road, Southsea, will now have no option but to close if Portsmouth City Council doesn’t decide to scrap the street’s controversial pedestrian zone.

Gulab Mohammed, who runs the spice shop with his brother Yusuf, said trade has plummeted by 60 per cent because the scheme stops motorists being able to park and stop by.

Staff have to drive to London to pick up big deliveries because lorry drivers can’t come and unload anytime after 11am.

Mr Mohammed said: ‘If nothing is done, then we will start the process of shutting down in the next six months.

‘This business was opened by my father in 1973 and now it’s a third generation business.

‘Things were going very well up until when the council didn’t listen to our views and decided to close the road.

‘Someone from the council came to see us and I told them that if you close the road, you might as well close the business. We have customers from as far away as Worthing and Basingstoke, and they will be very surprised to hear that we are struggling because of the closure of the road.’

Mr Mohammed said he is seeking professional advice about how he can take legal action against the council for loss of earnings.

Deputy Conservative group leader, Cllr Luke Stubbs, said: ‘The Akram’s store supplies a range of products available in only a couple of places in the city and it would be a huge shame to lose it.

‘It’s really quite depressing to think that one botched road scheme might end up killing a business that’s been successfully trading for 40 years.

‘We need to make sure those shops that sell something a little different manage to survive.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said he had every sympathy and the council was considering widening the loading bay in Clarendon Road so more customers could park there.

As previously reported, the pedestrian zone was introduced around two years ago in a bid to create a cafe culture – but there have been problems since with motorists not understanding the restrictions and anti-social behaviour stemming from alcohol abuse.

The scheme will be discussed at a future council meeting.