Portsmouth to launch new plan to tackle the scourge of rat-running drivers tearing through city streets

MOTORING menaces rat-running through the quiet streets of Southsea are set to be targeted under a new plan to cut down on deaths and casualties on city roads.

By Tom Cotterill
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 4:55 am

Portsmouth City Council will launch the opening gambit of its proposal to tackle the scourge of rat-running drivers during a meeting on Thursday.

The plan, branded ‘Active Pompey Neighborhoods’, intends to target those cutting through residential areas in Southsea using sat navs to dodge traffic snarl-ups.

Although details of exactly what this scheme will ultimately entail are thin, the council hopes it will make Portsmouth a ‘healthier’ and safer place to live.

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Cllr Lynne Stagg

The situation comes amid a crisis in road safety in Portsmouth, with at least 10 people having lost their lives on roads in and around the city since June last year.

The death rate led to the Department for Transport branding Portsmouth's roads the second most dangerous, outside of London, in the UK.

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Speaking of the council's new plan to tackle road safety, Councillor Lynne Stagg, cabinet member for traffic and transportation, said: 'Residents living in the side streets of Portsmouth used to be able to open their windows without considering vehicle fumes or the noise from passing vehicles.

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

'Children could play outside and feel safer walking to school. Walking or cycling for short journeys was the obvious option for most people. I'm not alone in hoping this could be something we start to rebuild, so I look forward to discussing the plans for an Active Pompey Neighbourhood and this may be another opportunity to help create a healthier city.'

The idea has been championed by Southsea street safety campaigner, Laura Mellor.

Laura set up the city’s first Play Streets scheme, which saw temporary road closures being put in place in Francis Avenue.

It proved a rousing success and allowed children to play safely in the avenue without the fear of drivers tearing down the road.

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

Speaking of the council’s Active Pompey Neighbourhood scheme, Laura said: ‘Rat running in Southsea is a real concern. People drive too quickly and it does worry me.

'So if this new plan makes it safer and means that people feel more confident to walk and cycle in Portsmouth, then that’s got to be a good thing.'

The city council said that motorists drove a whopping 646m miles in the city in 2020.

In a report to councillors, the authority said there had been nine pedestrian casualties and cycling casualties during the period 01/12/2018 - 30/11/2021.

Additionally, the lack of safer roads are a ‘major reason as to why people do not cycle more’, the council said.

Residents will be given the chance to have their say on the new road safety scheme, with a number of meetings and consultations expected to be set up - if councillors back the proposal.

It’s anticipated the scheme would be given a trial run of about 18 months.

The council said: ‘An Active Pompey Neighbourhood involves making changes to the road that enable those to walk, wheel or cycle for short trips, or as part of longer trips, but limit the amount of motor vehicles using the area as a cut through.

‘This would lead to a safer and more pleasant residential area where local residents feel inspired to travel more actively.

‘In Portsmouth we already have a large number of one-way streets, traffic calming areas and places that prioritise walking and cycling to discourage excess traffic. If the Active Pompey Neighbourhood plans are approved, residents could soon start to see a difference on their doorsteps.’

The meeting to debate the plan takes place at 4pm.