Campaign pays off as Portsmouth junction is improved

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A FIVE-YEAR campaign to get a city road junction improved has finally paid off.

Community leaders have come together to welcome the opening of a revamped crossing that will help ensure schoolchildren are kept safe.

Back row from left, headteacher of Solent Infant School Lucy Wilby, Cllr Ken Ellcome, Simon Thornton and Elizabeth Cooper, headteacher of Solent Junior School with children, from left, Jimm Burrell, Francesca Thornton, Jonathan Thornton and Erin Kaberry at the new crossing. Picture: Sarah Standing (150009-3753)

Back row from left, headteacher of Solent Infant School Lucy Wilby, Cllr Ken Ellcome, Simon Thornton and Elizabeth Cooper, headteacher of Solent Junior School with children, from left, Jimm Burrell, Francesca Thornton, Jonathan Thornton and Erin Kaberry at the new crossing. Picture: Sarah Standing (150009-3753)

Portsmouth City Council has splashed out around £35,000 changing the junction of Havant Road and Farlington Avenue in Farlington.

It is now a pelican crossing with button signals which pedestrians can operate to help control the flow of traffic.

The changes came on the back of a campaign steered by Drayton parent Simon Thornton, who was concerned about the dangers of the road, which serves as a main crossing point for pupils at two nearby schools.

Councillor Ken Ellcome, Tory cabinet member for traffic and transport, approved the scheme and officially opened the crossing with school officials and children yesterday.

He also paid tribute to Mr Thornton’s persistence.

Mr Thornton, 44, said: ‘It’s fantastic it’s finally happened, it’s taking a long time but I managed to get a huge amount of support.

‘It all started when I was walking to the school one day and there was no safe crossing point. Traffic coming from Bedhampton to Havant never stops.

‘I thought it was ridiculous and so I went through the various channels and went to the council.’

A year into his campaign in 2010, Mr Thornton gathered around 200 signatures through a paper petition but was then told by the council he needed 500 for it to be debated.

He then launched an online one which boosted numbers further.

Cllr Ellcome agreed the council would spend money improving the crossing at a meeting in September last year.

He said: ‘I am happy to support Mr Thornton’s campaign to improve this crossing.

‘It is for the benefit of schoolchildren but also of residents in this part of Farlington. We have managed to create this crossing using existing road signals.’