Published on Friday, 15th May 2020

Today marked the first day of the temporary closure of parts of the seafront. The stretches between the D-Day car park and Clarence Parade and between St Helen’s Parade and St George’s Road are now closed to cars and other powered vehicles. The length of the closure is indeterminate; legally it could last for 18 months.


With traffic volumes reduced, commercial premises closed and leisure travel being discouraged, this is reasonable. It will also make social distancing easier and potentially it will be safer for cyclists.


However a permanent loss of parking would be a cause for concern, with the potential to displace huge numbers of cars on to residential streets and to make it very difficult for businesses to survive.


Two Labour councillors have written to the News on this, saying ‘Longer term, after this has been in effect for a year or so, the council can consult residents, local business and visitors to the city and ask whether they want this to continue’.


In an email, the councillor in charge of transport, Lynne Stagg, seems to agree, saying ‘The closure may not last 18 months or it may be made permanent depending on how successful it is.’


Both these imply that even if social distancing rules are removed, the parking will not be coming back and further that this restriction is not solely about COVID 19, but rather is about climate change and phasing out cars.


That’s all very well, but in reality few visitors are going to cycle to Portsmouth, even if all visitor parking is removed.