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£1m to improve Ashley Road - but what should it be spent on?
MORE than £1million could be spent on improving Parkstone’s mile-long high street over the next three years.
Residents and traders are to be asked for their input on how Poole council should spend the government grant for Ashley Road.
One suggestion is improving a crossing where a trader warns it is “only a matter of time” before someone is badly injured.
Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset councils recently won a £12m grant from the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund for improving the A35 corridor through the conurbation.
Poole council wants to identify problems that need tackling on Ashley Road, including issues such as congestion, bus services, public spaces, parking and air quality.
The area around the Victoria Cross junction was revealed last year to have failed air quality tests.
Newtown councillor Brian Clements said he wanted as many people as possible to take part in a consultation.
“I think it’s really important we get input from as many people as possible and it needs to be people who live and work there, who know what the issues are,” he said.
Cllr Clements says the council should look again at the junction of Ashley Road, Richmond Road and Victoria Road in front of Waitrose.
Many pedestrians currently cross the junction diagonally – despite barriers designed to prevent them doing so – rather than wait for the lights at two crossings.
Cllr Clements said the council could consider allowing diagonal crossing and taking steps to make it safer.
“A little research reveals that such crossings are increasingly being introduced throughout the world where pedestrian demand is important and I personally think that this applies to Ashley Road,” he said in an email to officers.
“I would like to think that we will be able to incorporate improvements in the public realm that will help to revitalise Ashley Road,” he added.
Richard Wilson, treasurer of Ashley Road Traders Association, said traders would welcome improvements.
“We would like a consultation paper and possibly a questionnaire which could be distributed to traders in the area and some residents,” he said.
He said the projects could address the problem of parking, the width of some of the pavements and lack of flower and planters to make the area welcoming.
Mr Wilson, whose business Bookworm Books is on the junction with Richmond Road, said pedestrians frequently crossed against the lights, while drivers approaching from Churchill Road often ignored the ban on turning left into Ashley Road.
He said the idea of legalising diagonal crossing was worth considering. “We’ve had near misses a number of times,” he said.
“It’s only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt, unfortunately.”
* The Ashley Road improvements were due to be discussed this evening by Poole council’s Newtown and Parkstone area committee, 7pm, at the Evangelical Free Church Hall (next to Halfords), Ringwood Road.
HOW WORKS COULD PROCEED:
Timescale for improvements to Ashley Road
Draft proposals developed for consultation only – November 2012
Letters to traders and letters associations – December 2012
Public exhibitions manned by council officers – January 2013
Area committee considers proposals – January 9 2013
Final proposals presented to cabinet member for approval – March 14 2013.
First work begins – May/June 2013.