Southsea’s Cafe culture scheme is voted through

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Fareham council leader Sean Woodward

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PLANS to part-pedestrianise a Southsea street could create rat-runs and endanger children in nearby schools, according to councillors.

But despite their fears, every councillor at Portsmouth City Council’s full council meeting yesterday voted in favour of spending £470,000 on the Southsea improvement scheme.

As reported last week, the council plans to promote a cafe culture on the south end of Palmerston Road, by widening pavements, and stopping all traffic except taxis, bikes and buses using the road.

The plan is set to go ahead, after the full council considered the options. Tory Councillor Steve Wemyss said: ‘I am in favour of money being spent in Southsea, and on improvements. But my only concern is that traffic will be forced to use other nearby roads instead, for example, Kent Road, where Portsmouth High School is. I want to make sure there won’t be danger to youngsters from increased traffic outside the school.’

The full council meeting was asked only whether or not to release the cash for the Palmerston Road project, not how the money should be spent.

But Tory Cllr Malcolm Hey said: ‘Closing this road will turn Netley and Auckland Road into rat-runs, as people will try to head south from this area. Money must be spent, but it should first be released for Osborne Road.’

His call echoed the view of Simone McKeon, of the Southsea Retail Steering Group, who in The News last week claimed the council scheme could turn Palmerston Road into ‘another Guildhall Walk’.

She called for cash to be spent on widening pavements in Osborne Road, to help restaurants on the street.

But Cllr Mike Hancock, the council’s leader for planning, said: ‘This scheme is likely to have the best effect at the moment. The road is already pedestrianised at the north end. We will carry out the work on Osborne Road in future, too.’