Task force to try and tackle issues in troubled Southsea zone

DEBATE The controversial pedestrianised zone in Palmerston Road, Southsea
DEBATE The controversial pedestrianised zone in Palmerston Road, Southsea
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A TASK force could be set up to help deal with anti-social behaviour in a troubled pedestrian zone.

Portsmouth City Council wants to put together a team made up of residents, police, businesses and licensing officials to address problems caused by late-night drinking in Palmerston Road, Southsea.

The idea has been proposed by Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council.

‘What I want to do is put together a group of people which will work out the strategy for reducing anti-social behaviour,’ he said.

‘There have been problems at all different times down there for many years and what I want to make sure of is these problems are resolved.’

Residents living in nearby Villiers Court, Palm Court, Queen’s Keep and Hamilton Court have been sent letters asking them to nominate someone from their block to take part. They’ve also been asked their views on the scheme and submit their thoughts back by January 10.

It comes after surveys held by The News and the council revealed businesses weren’t happy with the current restrictions and either wanted the whole road pedestrianised or have the place opened back up to traffic.

But the elected group will not address problems with traffic and whether barriers will go at both ends of the southern precinct to block cars and buses, as those matters will be dealt with separately.

Rosemary Devonald, 66, of Palm Court, said the real answer would be to do a proper consultation to see what everyone in the area wants and deal with all of the problems together.

‘This could end up splitting us into two camps, one against anti-social behaviour and the other focusing on traffic,’ she said.

‘We have to look at both together. We’ve received letters, but roads like Auckland Road East and West and Villiers Road haven’t and this affects them too.

‘The council has blocked them out.’

Linda Symes, a member of the Conservative group who collected 1,400 signatures against the pedestrian zone as it is, said: ‘It’s not just the anti-social behaviour. It’s the traffic problem, it’s the problem with the planters, it’s the problem with the businesses. It’s all of these things combined.’

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said: ‘It strikes me that it sounds like a bit of a gimmick and skirting around the issues that the pedestrian zone has.’

The task force will be discussed by the council’s cabinet at a later date.