Be prepared for Olympic torch relay parties

COMING SOON The torch is to arrive in this area at the weekend
COMING SOON The torch is to arrive in this area at the weekend
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SPORTS fans planning to catch the Olympic torch relay in person are being warned to plan their journeys carefully.

With thousands of people expected to line the route as it finally reaches our region on Sunday, delays on the roads are highly likely, and the authorities are advising the public to walk, cycle or use public transport where possible.

Rolling road closures will be in place as the flame travels through the streets, with some roads expected to be closed for up to 30 minutes, but the knock-on effects could last much longer.

The flame arrives in Fareham at 4.30pm, heads through Bridgemary and Gosport and arrives at Southsea Common at 6.45pm.

For those planning to drive, parking will be free from 6am to midnight on Sunday at the Isambard Brunel multi-storey car park in Portsmouth.

Parking in Southsea will be restricted, but an overflow car park will be available on Castle Field, charged at the normal rates.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson will welcome the flame to Guildhall Square, at about 6.30pm.

He said: ‘It’s an honour to have to flame stay overnight with us in Portsmouth.

‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you won’t want to miss.

‘There are many places where you can see the torch relay, so make sure you plan your weekend and enjoy the free entertainment.

‘It’s arriving late in the afternoon on Sunday, so it won’t affect commuter traffic, and the eastern side of the city shouldn’t be affected, nor should the M275 or the central route in to the city.

‘And then on Monday it will leave before most people are driving to work.

‘I wasn’t going to turn down the chance for the people of Portsmouth to be part of this great opportunity to be part of the Olympics.’

The Gosport Ferry will be used to transport the flame across the water from Gosport to Portsmouth at around 6pm on Sunday, and delays are expected around that period.

There will be entertainment running all afternoon at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, with local community groups including a soul and blues band, clog dancers, singers and many more.

The arrival of the flame and performances will also be shown live on the big screen at Guildhall Square from 5.30pm.

And celebrations on Southsea Common will start at 5pm in preparation for the flame’s arrival at 6.45pm.

Hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks and Britain’s Got Talent dance act, Twist and Pulse, will join local performers from dance troupe Most Wanted, a choir from the Portsmouth Music Service and the New Theatre Royal Little Actors and Youth Theatre.

On Monday morning the torch relay will restart at Fratton Park at 7.30am, heading up to Kingston Crescent, from where it will be transported on to Petersfield.

There will be a special event at Fratton Park just for local school children.

First Bus has also made changes to several of its routes in a bid to minimise delays.

The Highways Agency has suggested drivers familiarise themselves with the Olympic torch relay timetable and leave plenty of time for travel – and expect delays.

It will be using electronic message signs where appropriate to give information on diversions and delays, as well as provide up-to-the-minute information about traffic conditions on the motorways and other major roads on local radio.

It warns that major roads affected include the M27 and M275, on Sunday and the M275, A3(M) and A27 on Monday morning.

On Sunday, trains between London Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour, via Eastleigh, are diverted between Eastleigh and Fareham, making an additional stop at Southampton Central.