Will Portsmouth’s streets be car-less soon? 

Could cars disappear from the streets as quickly as horse-drawn carriages did?
Could cars disappear from the streets as quickly as horse-drawn carriages did?

Techie folk are predicting that within the next decade, many of us will decide we no longer need a car and that, within 20 years, personal cars will be a thing of the past. 

Easy to scoff (I am), but apparently the combustion engine is likely to be replaced by self-driving electric cars in an Uber-like network, and it will be so cheap that we’ll all condemn our engines to the scrapheap.

But what about road-trips like Route 66? Or will we just hire a car for those? In 1908, the first Ford model rolled off production lines. The streets were full of horse-drawn carriages still. By 1930, there were no carriages in sight and the roads were full of cars.  It doesn’t take long for things to change.

Portsmouth’s new streetlights could burn your retinas

As the nights draw in, the time of year approaches when we confuse our offspring completely by telling them it’s fine to not only go to the homes of strangers but to also accept sweets from them. 

The amber glow of the streetlights falls upon the pavements in puddles of light against the gloom, and …

Oh, nope, rewind. Did I say amber glow? Thereby giving the impression of something warm, perhaps cosy, suitable to have outside a small child’s bedroom window?

What I meant was a stark white light, bright and luminescent and downright intrusive. Instead of the traditional golden glow of the streetlights, many in Portsmouth are being replaced with what appears to be bulbs stolen from Fratton Park’s floodlights.

I’d imagine that some streets in the northern end of the city are probably now visible to the International Space Station (as is, I half suspect, the vast quantity of dog poo on them).

In fact, perhaps that is why the streets now resemble a prison yard. Have they been day-glowed so that not only do small children refuse to sleep, but pedestrians can actually see the dog mess before squelching their winter wellies in it this year?

Personally, I’d rather the council had spent the cash on monitoring and removing the fetid sea of faeces and left the lights alone.

I noticed the change last Friday, when my forecourt went from the usual sleepy orange glow to police searchlight in full force.

We assumed this was a car’s headlights or even several cars, until we peered outside and risked burning our retinas.

Who wants bright white lights in the street at night? Much as this is a bit first-world problems to be moaning about, it’s also legitimate from the point of view of younger kids – fussy sleepers at the best of times, let alone when they think it’s actually 9am outside – and also for any adult without a blackout curtain.

I can’t imagine that this is a crime-fighting initiative (it would be useless), so what is the point? Aside from giving middle-aged moaners like myself further fodder.

Many schools deserve praise I just can’t fit them all in!

A couple of readers commented about other schools that should have had a mention in a piece I wrote about education improving in the city. 

Undoubtedly there are many schools that have improved – which was my point – but due to the word count I chose two of the schools that were once Special Measures and are no longer. In particular, the statistics behind award-winning nurture group The Rockpool, at Manor Infants and Nursery, stand out. Exclusions have fallen from 31 to zero, and part-time timetables have fallen from eight to zero. 

The Progress 8 benchmark was something else I looked at when deciding which schools to write about.