TAILBACKS caused by increased security checks at Portsmouth’s naval base have been branded ‘unacceptable’ by the city’s council leader.
Councillor Donna Jones hit out at base bosses for not warning the council of the likelihood of traffic woe across the city as workers queue to get into the base.
Commuters have endured jams on the roads in and out of the city this week – similar to the gridlock pictured on the front page.
The council has now spent £15,000 on equipment to help the flow of traffic.
The Ministry of Defence says the security status of the base has not changed, but The News understands more thorough checks are being carried out its gates, leading to tailbacks along the M275 as workers queue to get in.
Cllr Jones said: ‘This is an unacceptable situation.
‘It delays people getting to school, work and hospital.
‘The security checks at the naval base have a large part to play in these delays with substantial queues right the way back to the junction with the M27.
‘We have reviewed CCTV footage all around the city this week which has shown substantial queues back from the gates of the naval base.
‘I have been contacted by residents in my ward who work in the naval base who have expressed their frustration at the long delays getting into work.
‘This is not good enough.
‘I can fully understand national security is heightened and I appreciate the naval base needs to carry out very thorough checks but we need to be involved in planning and the base needs to share information with us.’
Last night naval base workers were sent a memo with advice on how to help keep queues down at the gates.
One worker, who did not want to be named, told The News: ‘It has been absolutely gridlocked for the past two days because they have been doing thorough checks on all passes.
‘At the end of the day it is frustrating for those of us who use the base and for anybody else but it is a naval base and this is part of it.
‘It’s important the base is secure and we shouldn’t expect anything else.’
Another base worker, who also wished to remain anonymous, added: ‘What used to be a 14-minute journey for me is now a 45-minute crawl.
‘I feel sorry for Portsmouth residents trying to leave Portsmouth for work in the mornings.
‘As for me, it’s time to get the bike out.’
Cllr Jones said the council ordered a piece of equipment on Tuesday which will synchronise all the traffic lights across the city to help ease pressure during tailbacks. The kit cost £15,000 and will be delivered in around six weeks.
She added: ‘As leader of the council my job is to ensure people can move freely around.
‘So we have ordered a £15,000 piece of equipment to synchronise all the traffic lights and ease pressure.’
The Ministry of Defence said it has entered talks with the council to investigate the issue.
A spokeswoman said: ‘We are aware of traffic delays and are in dialogue with the city council to investigate the cause. If there are any measures the base can put in place to alleviate the congestion, we will take appropriate action.
‘The naval base operates robust security procedures in line with what is appropriate for a military base. There has been no change to the security level in Portsmouth Naval Base.
‘The security level is at ‘heightened’ as it has been for some time.’
To read The News’ view on this click here.