Watchdog urged to address problems with Southsea pedestrian zone

CHANGES Palmerston Road
CHANGES Palmerston Road

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A WATCHDOG has been called in to deal with issues surrounding a controversial pedestrian zone in Southsea.

The Local Government Ombudsman is deciding whether to investigate a complaint made about traffic going through the south end of Palmerston Road.

Jean Reno, 40, of Richmond Road, Southsea, has got the regulator involved because he thinks Portsmouth City Council hasn’t done enough to stop drivers flouting the rules.

If the ombudsman – a commissioner who investigates complaints about councils – thinks the authority is to blame then he can issue guidelines that call for changes to be made.

Mr Reno said he spotted 22 cars, one lorry, a taxi and two Royal Mail vans going through the pedestrian zone from 4pm to 11pm on June 13.

He said the situation was putting lives at risk – and wants the council to either make the whole road a pedestrian zone or scrap the scheme altogether.

He said: ‘Something needs to be done once and for all.

‘The council should put a complete ban on traffic in the road or reverse the scheme and put the normal road back in place.

‘The signs are laughable because it should say no entry except buses. They are too confusing.’

The council says it plans to consult with residents about what can be done.

Mr Reno previously complained to the ombudsman when the zone was introduced last year – but it didn’t take things further because it felt the council needed time to make resolutions. He said nothing substantial had been done.

‘The council won’t give me a final decision on what it is going to,’ he said.

Deputy Conservative group leader Cllr Luke Stubbs, who wants to draw up a petition over traffic problems in Southsea, said: ‘I thought after a few months the number of cars going into the pedestrian zone would drop off to zero – but that hasn’t been the case.

‘Some of that is down to sat navs, but a lot of it is down to bad signage. The council needs to look at this issue closely.’

A spokeswoman for The Local Government Ombudsman said: ‘I can confirm that we have had a transport complaint against the authority.

‘There’s a process we have to go through when looking into complaints.

‘If we go through the procedure and find that there is reasonable grounds for this complaint then we can ask the council to take action and make the decisions they should have made in the first place, and review procedures so that it doesn’t happen again.’