Portsmouth road deaths: 'Urgent' action must be taken to stop more people being killed on city roads as island hits 10-year deaths high

DEATHS on Portsmouth’s roads have surged to record highs prompting ‘urgent’ calls from city leaders to improve safety before more lives are lost.

By Tom Cotterill
Sunday, 24th April 2022, 2:26 pm

Since June, eight people have died in crashes on city roads and streets – with all but one of those killed being pedestrians.

The spike is the biggest loss of life recorded on the city’s roads in the past decade, and is believed to be one of the most deadly in Portsmouth’s history.

There have been seven road deaths in Portsmouth since June

In January alone, three pedestrians were killed in Portsmouth – which equalled the total fatalities recorded between 2013 and 2015.

Worried city leaders have now vowed to do what they can to improve things amid calls for authorities to review the island’s woeful safety record.

‘Urgent action is needed’ says MP

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said he would put pressure on Portsmouth City Council to take ‘urgent action’ and added: ‘These figures are deeply concerning and must be addressed quickly.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, has raised his concerns about the number of fatalities on Portsmouth's roads over the past year. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (060619-20)

‘Portsmouth is the most densely populated city outside of London in the country, but this spike in deaths on our city’s roads should not be happening.

‘With schools reopening and many now back in the office for work, we cannot have this trend continue into 2022.’

Figures revealed by a News investigation show that between 2013 and 2020, 17 people were killed in crashes in Portsmouth.

The total for 2021 is due to come out soon. However, a review carried out by this paper has shown that since June, seven people have lost their lives.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has expressed her concerns. Picture: Habibur Rahman

City’s death toll is revealed

The most recent death was last night, when a 64-year-old man from Portsmouth was hit by a Stagecoach bus in London Road, Hilsea, at 6.47pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The tragedy appears to mirror a similar incident on January 29, in wich 18-year-old Elin Martin was killed near Gunwharf Quays after being hit by a bus.

Simon Bosher, Tory group leader for Portsmouth, Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1)

The beloved 91-year-old – who used to volunteer with the British Heart Foundation - was taken to Southampton General Hospital but later died as a result of her injuries.

Other casualties to have lost their lives include:

:: Kenneth Cullen, 76, of Midhurst, who died after being hit by a motorbike while walking along Clarence Esplanade, in Southsea, on November 8.

:: Doreen Colwell, 85, of Lower Drayton Lane, Drayton, who was hit by a van while walking across the pedestrian crossing in Vectis Way, Cosham, on October 7.

:: Sharon Randall, 55, of Waterloo Street, Southsea, who lost her life after being hit by a suspected drunk-driver while walking in Winston Churchill Avenue, Southsea, on August 3.

:: George McGowan, 19, was hit by a car while crossing Leominster Road in Paulsgrove with his e-scooter on June 12. The teenager died in hospital 10 days later.

Council leader ‘extremely concerned’ over deaths but questions whether they’re linked

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, boss of Portsmouth City Council, said he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the surge of deaths.

But the veteran Lib Dem councillor was perplexed by the causes and said he could not see an obvious link between them all.

He added: ‘I’m wondering whether it is because of lockdown that we are less used to driving on the roads now. And maybe pedestrians have been more used to having pretty empty roads.

‘But I don’t see a pattern of things anybody could do with the particular deaths that have happened in the past year that would have protected those people.

‘We can always install more pedestrian crossings and we will do. But it is very worrying that we have got these fatalities but I don’t see an obvious link between them all.’

The view is shared by Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, who described the spate of deaths as a tragedy.

Speaking to The News, the trade minister said: ‘The causes behind these tragic events are varied. What it shows is that there can be no complacency across every aspect of road safety.

‘This area of our lives has also not been immune from the pandemic, with some people returning to regular driving after long periods at home.

‘We need to keep people updated and refreshed on the rules of the road and learn from this data.’

Vital new measures needed to identify blackspots

However, both Conservative and Labour councillors at Portsmouth City Council have insisted the island has a problem.

Councillor Simon Bosher, Tory leader who sits on the council’s traffic, environment and community safety scrutiny panel, said: ‘Road safety should be front and centre of everything traffic and transportation do for the city. With the three instances in January – notwithstanding the police investigation – the city council road safety team should be looking to see whether there are any issues putting pedestrians and traffic in conflict.’

Cllr Bosher said new measures were needed to document ‘near-misses’ between pedestrians and cars, similar to an existing system in place for cyclists.

The Drayton and Farlington councillor said this could help reveal critical data that could alert authorities to potential blackspots before a death occurs.

‘Right now we go off historical data,’ he said. ‘That’s not helpful in my view. It’s not addressing the near-misses and subsequently aren’t being flagged up.

‘We have a very proactive road safety team but they are a small team. It’s difficult for them to cover the entirety of the city. That’s why we need the ability for residents to report issues.’

The idea was supported by Labour’s city transport spokesman, Councillor Graham Heaney, who said: ‘There is a problem. We need to have all these accidents looked at. We need to look back at the ones that have happened to see if there were any common features.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the idea of a near-miss tool for the city had merit.

He added: ‘This sounds remarkably sensible. The more information we have got about places that are in danger, the more we can intervene to try and protect people.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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