Portsmouth City Council announces dates when Southsea seafront road closures will be lifted
SEAFRONT road closures will remain in place for weeks to come – but the city council has confirmed the dates when they will be lifted.
Parts of Eastney Esplanade and Clarence Esplanade were shut indefinitely on May 1 to allow pedestrians to socially distance.
In recent weeks, seafront residents have voiced their concerns about the continued closures say that they have turned nearby streets into a ‘parking frenzy and pollution hellhole’ and a protest even took place over the weekend.
A review has taken place, including 12-hour counts of people cycling and walking along the seafront road in two locations, the council said. It said police revealed there had been no serious accidents as a result of the closure.
The council said changes to ease the pressure on Eastern Parade were investigated but there are no physical barriers available so a quick change to the closure was not possible.
Portsmouth City Council has now announced that after reviewing data from a wide variety sources including a citywide survey completed by more than 2,000 residents they will be reopening the roads next month.
Eastney Esplanade will reopen to motor vehicles on the evening of Sunday, September 13 and the western seafront road closure will be reopened on the September 30 in the evening.
The city council have said that it is anticipated that the need for additional space for walking and cycling will reduce as children return to school.
However it also warns that temporary seafront road closures could be reinstated if the infection rate increases nationally and government changes are made to the pandemic response or if changes are required on a local level.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council explained: ‘As promised, we have reviewed the temporary changes to roads in response to the pandemic and the data shows that 54 percent of people are in favour of the change along with an increase in usage, this clearly show the changes should remain until September.
‘We are reopening the roads to vehicles at this point as this is when less people visit the seafront, but if infection rates increase or government guidance changes we will reconsider the temporary seafront road closure.
‘Work will continue in other areas of the city to make space for safer cycling and walking.’
Mark Trapani, spokesman for the Open the Seafront campaign, was pleased with the announcement that the roads will reopen next month.
The 64-year-old resident of St Helens Parade, Southsea, said: ‘It is good news that they will reopen in September.
‘It is fair to say that when the initial lockdown began there were few vehicles on the roads, it was fair for the roads to remain exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists but the world has moved on dramatically since then.
‘I am really pleased that the city council have decided to reopen and have confirmed a date.’
Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Donna Jones, added: ‘This is extremely disappointing news. The way the road was closed was a misuse of the traffic regulation legislation.
‘It was done under a temporary road closure and clearly this road has not been closed for a temporary period. It’s a misuse of the traffic act.’
She added: ‘Already there have been accidents which were avoidable. Children and cyclists injured by a road that is not wide enough for the heavy usage it is now having to cope with.
‘This is blighting people’s lives and for what? It’s wrong and the road should be opened ASAP.’
Further changes to support the focus on improving active travel for the health and safety of people in the city during the pandemic continues.
Work is currently ongoing to close Canal Walk and Castle Road to vehicles to give more space for walking and cycling, and help create safer cycle routes.
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