Demands for Oxford Street to be pedestrianised
It is dubbed the “Covent Garden of Southampton”.
Now angry restaurateurs are demanding traffic from their popular city road is banned.
Traders in Oxford Street say drivers are mounting pavements, parking haphazardly and damaging kerbstones – just three years after a £850,000 facelift to repave the street and transform it into an Italian-style Piazza.
Now businesses are appealing for transport chiefs to impose a pedestrianised zone.
Oxford Street had undergone refurb as part of a scheme to attract diners and visitors under Southampton City Council’s former Conservative administration.
But plans to create a pedestrianised zone from the junction of St John Street to the London Hotel at its eastern end were never completed after the Tories lost power.
Now traders are having to put up with cars, lorries and taxis regularly blocking the street and parking on pavements – sometimes driving between tables.
Jimmy Ndoci, owner of Scoozi Italian restaurant, said cars park haphazardly from 8am until after midnight meaning pedestrians having to weave around them.
He said: ”Everybody parks their cars in front of the pavements – whether they are unloading or going for dinner – meaning some people have to walk in the road with their kids.”
Simon Foderingham, owner of Simon’s at Oxford’s bar and restaurant, added: “We are promoting this as the Covent Garden of Southampton and encouraging people to eat al fresco. The only solution is to pedestrianise it from St John Street.”
Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, who led the previous Tory council, said: “Public money was spent to improve Oxford Street for local people to enjoy and to protect jobs in our economy. Despite repeated warnings the council are letting the paving go to rack and ruin. Pedestrianise it from St John Street and the problems would be solved.”
A council spokesman said repairs are scheduled to fix broken slabs which had been weakened by drivers persistently parking on the pavement, and added: “Before carrying out further repairs, we are looking at various options to deal with this ongoing problem including changing the surface, adding street furniture or closing off part of the road.”
Council deputy leader and transport cabinet member Cllr Jacqui Rayment said: “The introduction of street furniture is a last resort as it may reduce the space available for outside seating areas, but will help to solve the problem of inconsiderate drivers who spoil the area for others.
“Subject to funding constraints, this scheme is set for completion later this year.”