CONCERNS have been raised over Southsea’s new pedestrian zone after it emerged many motorists are just ignoring it.
The south end of Palmerston Road has been opened up to the public in a bid to create a more welcoming environment and foster a ‘cafe culture’ feel.
But pushbikes and buses are still allowed to use the road, leading to some confusion and alarm as pedestrians are confronted by unexpected traffic.
And local people, bars and shops are also reporting cars and motorbikes flouting the new rules.
A Facebook group – called ‘It’s a precinct/pedestrian zone, you muppet!!’ – has now been set up to collect photographs of vehicles driving where they aren’t allowed.
Steve Hudson, manager of Drift Bar in Palmerston Road, said the local traders felt the new system wasn’t working.
He said: ‘I have CCTV footage of kids playing in the road because their parents don’t realise traffic can still use it. It’s just crazy – no-one knows whether they’re coming or going.
‘The council needs to extend it all the way down the road and make it a proper pedestrian zone, or scrap it altogether. But now they’ve spent all this money they might as well do it properly.’
He added that many local people didn’t feel the council had consulted properly before implementing the changes.
Vince Faithful, chairman of the Southsea Association, said: ‘I don’t think it has been properly thought through and it is going to end up with someone being injured.
‘The speed limit doesn’t seem enforceable, there are grave concerns about people with vision impairments, and people are just not aware it is pedestrianised.’
Pam Turton, the council’s assistant head of transport, said although delivery vehicles can use the zone before 11am, taxis, private-hire vehicles and general traffic are not allowed at any time.
She said: ‘The zone has only been operating for a couple of weeks and inevitably there will be a settling-in period where people get used to the changes.
‘We are restricted with what signs can go up as we have to follow government regulations. But we will work with the local community to ensure they are as effective as possible.’
Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that motorists caught driving in the zone face a fine.