People pressure forces U-turn on planned closure of Portsmouth road

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PEOPLE power has forced a rethink on plans to shut a busy Portsmouth road to southbound traffic.

Portsmouth City Council had planned to spend £150,000 closing Farlington Avenue, Farlington, to all vehicles heading south from Portsdown Hill Road, in an attempt to make the road safer for vehicles and pedestrians.

At a public consultation meeting at Drayton’s Church of the Resurection, the council’s senior project manager Michelle Love said: ‘We had complaints from people that traffic on the road is too fast, and as road safety specialists, we drew up a scheme we thought would work best.’

The team monitored traffic speeds on the 20mph road, and found that although vehicles averaged 18mph travelling uphill, those heading south averaged 37mph.

The council proposed to shut the road to any traffic travelling south between Portsdown Hill Road and Birkdale Avenue, closing it off to people travelling south.

But although the majority of the 63 people at the meeting agreed traffic calming was needed on the road, almost all told the council the plans would be a mistake.

This was because it would have meant locals would have faced detours to get to their homes and rat-runs would have been created in nearby roads.

Grandmother Barbara Samuels, of Farlington Avenue, said: ‘In the past four years I’ve had my garden wall knocked down twice by speeding motorists. It cost me £5,000 in repairs each time.

‘Both were at night and I’m scared to sit in the garden in the daytime, now.

‘My young grandchildren play in the garden, so what would happen to them if there was a crash?

‘But even so, I don’t want the road closed. I don’t think it would help. There should be traffic-calming measures introduced.’

Jack Nisbet, of Downing Road, added: ‘The cars which are stopped from using Farlington Avenue will just find new ways to go.

‘It will make our smaller, residential roads much more dangerous, with speeding traffic.’

Residents of Farlington Avenue and surrounding roads have now been asked to comment on a new design, which would see southbound traffic forced to slow by having to give way to vehicles entering from Moortown Avenue, as well as raised sections of roads and pinch points.

Ms Love said: ‘This was part of the consultation process, and people clearly aren’t in favour of closing the road, so we have to go back to the drawing board and redesign a scheme.’

Neighbours will be asked to vote on the alternatives, and the most popular choice will be started before March 2012.

The designs will be on public view at the next Drayton and Farlington council ward councillors’ surgery on Saturday, August 13, from 9.30am to 11.30am, at the Drayton Institute.

Feedback can sent to Adam Bunce, Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2NE.