A GOVERNMENT transport minister has said now is the time for local authorities to ask for help in addressing infrastructure issues to help trigger economic growth.
Baroness Susan Kramer, who officially opened the Tipner park and ride in April, returned to the site yesterday to find out how it has gone so far.
She said: ‘I have noticed the buses coming from The Hard have had Christmas shoppers on them.
‘Part of the rationale of the government giving the money for this was because it has opened the rest of this site for redevelopment.
‘It was also about reducing the number of cars going in to the city.
‘It is important that we note success stories like this to help with other schemes in the future.’
Asked if there is anything else the government can do to reduce traffic jams in the city, as experienced in Portsmouth this week, and improve railway connections, she said: ‘What we have done in the coalition is we have made a very big pot of money available to local communities to bid for to drive forward economic growth.
‘It is really important opportunity to identify where the problems are acting as barriers to growth, looking at what the solutions are and taking part in the next round of bidding for the Growth Fund.
‘There needs to be a coherent case, particularly made by local authorities and local enterprise partnerships, in what they can do to contribute towards those changes.
‘It is part of a commitment to identify what will make the difference, particularly for growth.’
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the authority’s Liberal Democrat group and former council leader, met Baroness Kramer at the park and ride.
He said: ‘The park and ride has been a real success.
‘More than 150,000 people have used it since it opened.
‘That means around 100,000 cars have not been driven into the centre of Portsmouth.
‘There have been teething problems and the council needs to look at some of the lanes going into the city because there have been queues. We are learning from experience. The basic principle has been hugely successful.
‘If we can find more ways to stop people driving their cars into the city that is a big benefit.’