A BUSY Southampton road has been reopened but there are calls for it to remain closed.

Bedford Place reopened to traffic on Tuesday. The road closure put in place last summer proved controversial.

But a petition asking for city leaders not to reopen the road is set to be presented to councillors on Wednesday.

It comes as the full council meeting at Southampton City Council will start at 2pm.

The petition signed by 1,510 people and submitted to the council reads: “Please don’t open up Bedford Place to vehicular traffic. Maintain this as a safe area for pedestrians, cyclists and residents with disabilities to enjoy local bars, clubs and restaurants.

"This was originally a Labour council initiative but was not strictly political. Supported by central government funding and the full range of Southampton local residents across the political spectrum.

"The opening up of the space for outdoor use for everyone has been hugely beneficial during the pandemic. The continued use will provide some health security for the new normal."

As reported, the trial in Bedford Place proved controversial.

Some residents welcomed the road closures but some local businesses said it hit trade and asked the council to reopen Bedford Place to traffic.

Labour councillors who implemented the scheme before losing control of the council in this year’s elections said the decision to reopen the road “flies in the face of government ambitions for more cafe culture”.

Bargate Cllr Sarah Bogle, opposition spokesperson for growth, said: “This is such a backward step. The scheme is being cut off just as we will start to see more people coming here, especially as we get into summer. It’s a missed opportunity, and a sign of Conservative councillors having made their mind up from day one that Bedford Place should prioritise vehicles not people.”

Cllr Jeremy Moulton, deputy leader and cabinet member for growth, said the desire for a cafe culture in the area will be taken in to account as part of future plans for the area.

He added: “We didn’t come in with a pre-determined view but we came in recognising there was concern about the closure of the road. We consulted and the consultation revealed that the majority of businesses wanted it open because it was damaging businesses.”

Earlier this month Cllr Moulton said the new administration did not feel “it was responsible to ignore the majority of views from the business community”.