Children across Portsmouth will be able to play safely in roads as part of a play streets scheme
RESIDENTIAL roads across Portsmouth will become car-free on certain Sunday afternoons to allow children to play outside with their neighbours.
Portsmouth City Council approved a scheme that will allow residents to host their own 'play streets' following a trial carried out in Francis Avenue, in Southsea, last year.
Selected streets will be able to close to through traffic on advertised Sunday afternoons for around three hours, with adult chaperones who will guide in any cars needing to leave or park up.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting yesterday the council's safer transport manager Michelle Love said: 'It works in cities because people maybe don't have time or access to green spaces.
'Councillors and residents have worked together to create two play streets last summer.
'Francis Avenue closed for three hours on a Sunday afternoon. All the feedback was that people really valued the time they had to meet neighbours and have children playing outside.
'We will write a set of documents to make it easier for residents to pick up and organise streets themselves. We will carry out all the technical background stuff and the residents will be in charge of running the streets themselves.'
Central Southsea Councillor Steve Pitt attended one of the play streets last year.
'There were a number of residents who came out and talked to their neighbours for the first time,' he said.
'It's encouraging community and giving children more confidence and the family unit the ability to spend time together.'
Councillors praised Francis Avenue resident Laura Mellor who initially campaigned for the scheme.
The council's traffic boss Cllr Lynne Stagg added: 'I am absolutely delighted this is coming about.
'I remember when there were only two cars on my road and I spent my afternoons playing in the street. I went down to Francis Avenue during this and it was really lovely to see children being able to play together.
'Because of the constant traffic going back and forth they usually have to play inside.'
It is also hoped residents who take part in the scheme initially will form a committee to encourage others to set up play streets.