Road safety plea launched in Portsmouth to stop old people from being run over by speeding drivers

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for improved safety measures along one of the city’s oldest roads in a bid to prevent speeding drivers from running over frail pensioners.

Sunday, 21st April 2019, 5:03 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st April 2019, 5:07 pm
Labour activists are among those calling for improved road safety measures in Old Portsmouth. Photo: Portsmouth Labour

Labour activists have joined residents in Old Portsmouth in demanding a new zebra crossing is installed along High Street before a serious accident.

The road already has one of the crossings near Portsmouth Grammar School. But campaigners have said elderly residents are worried about speeding drivers further down the street and have urged Portsmouth City Council to install a second crossing near the cathedral.

Sumel Chowdhury, who is Labour’s candidate for St Thomas Ward, has been lobbying with residents in Old Portsmouth and set up a petition.

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He said speeding drivers were an issue along High Street and at the junction with Pembroke and Lombard Street.

‘A lot of people from Old Portsmouth have raised their concerns about road crossing safety,’ he said. ‘Elderly people are struggling and are worried about crossing the road.

‘We have a duty of care to look after people and keep residents safe.We want to prevent accidents before they happen – that is why we need a zebra crossing.’

Stuart Potter, chairman of UKIP Portsmouth, agreed action was needed to improve the state of the city’s road safety and backed Labour’s call.

He said: ‘Having a new zebra crossing in Old Portsmouth is something I would support. It seems like a sensible idea.’

But he added there needed to be a new focus on safety issues, one he said his party would take if elected.

‘The main issue is driver education,’ said the Paulsgrove candidate. ‘Drivers need to understand that speeding through built-up areas is not the right thing to do and can be dangerous.

‘At the end of the day, speeding endangers pedestrians, families, dogs and those driving.’

Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth Tory leader, said the city’s Conservatives had been aware of the concerns in Old Portsmouth and had lobbied the council six months ago.

The former city council chief added: ‘Road safety is one of our top priorities.

‘That’s why in the Conservative budget this year we put money aside for road safety projects.’

‘The Conservatives have already set aside £65,000 for a new zebra crossing,’ she added.

Lib Dem councillor Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth’s traffic and transportation boss, said she was ‘aware’ of the concerns and that the council was ‘looking at’ the situation.

She added: ‘This is an issue that is absolutely on our radar.

‘There is potential to put in a zebra crossing but the problem is they can cost a lot of money.

‘We don’t have infinite resources at the council.

‘It can cost about £100,000 to install one.

‘The other idea is to get traffic calming measures installed.’

Tim Sheerman-Chase, of Portsmouth Green Party, was ‘all for’ a new zebra crossing and added: ‘Anything that makes the environment a safer place is a good idea.

‘We need to do more to encourage people to walk or cycle more and improving road safety is a good step in the right direction.’

Councillor Stagg said ‘nothing had been decided’ but insisted that improving the city’s road safety was a ‘top priority’ for the Lib Dems.

‘We have already installed a tiger crossing by Priory School, which has had 16 accidents in the last five years,’ she added. ‘As far as I’m aware, Old Portsmouth is not an accident blackspot but I can understand where people are coming from.’