Children play freely in Southsea street closed to traffic as memories of yesteryear evoked through Play Street scheme

CHILDREN played freely on a Southsea street as memories of yesteryear were evoked.

By Steve Deeks
Sunday, 12th September 2021, 7:08 pm

Youngsters took advantage of the usually busy Francis Avenue being closed to traffic on Sunday afternoon.

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The community-led initiative known as Play Street was the third of such events organised in the road but the last one since September 2019.

Francis Avenue was closed to through traffic for the afternoon to allow children to play in the street. Picture: Sam Stephenson

The popular scheme brought out flocks of happy children - as well as parents and residents who took the opportunity for a catch-up or to get to know each other.

It is hoped the project will now take off in other parts of the city. Whitwell Road has already held a couple of play streets recently and Lindley Avenue could also have one soon.

Organiser Laura Mellor said: ‘Everyone wanted it to happen again and it’s been so nice to watch the children playing and enjoying themselves down the street safely.

‘The kids just get on with having spontaneous fun. It’s a good social scene for the adults too. We’ve got people who have lived here 40 years and others who have just moved in. It’s a really good get together, though it’s not a street party.

Francis Avenue was closed to through traffic for the afternoon Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘It’s been ideal with the kids playing and the adults chatting - and it’s been warm with the sun out too.

‘We will hopefully hold another one but it is important to make sure the community wants it.’

City councillor Suzy Horton, member for children, families and education, said: ‘A lot of hard work has been done by the residents - without the community supporting the scheme it would not happen.

‘It’s just lovely for the children to go out and play safely on the street and takes you back to the days when it was more commonplace.

Francis Avenue Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘There’s fresh air, socialising and fun. It’s good for the residents to see and meet each other. There is no end to the benefits.

‘There are plans for other Play Streets across the city which will hopefully take off. It’s important to remember that roads are not exclusively for cars and can be used for other things.’

Jane and Seb Griffin, both 35 who live in the road, said the idea was ‘great’. Jane said: ‘It’s really nice to see the children playing with each other in the street as it can normally get busy down here.

Francis Avenue Picture: Sam Stephenson

Seb added: ‘Everyone is very friendly and it’s nice to see so many people.’

Student Toby Morgan, 21, who has recently moved into the street, said: ‘It’s lovely to see all the children out playing - it’s like the good old days.

‘It’s nice they don’t have to worry about cars. The atmosphere is good and everyone is friendly.’

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Francis Avenue Picture: Sam Stephenson