Chaos on the roads must never happen again in city

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What happened in Portsmouth at the weekend was little short of an absolute disgrace and an embarrassment to our city.

Anyone out and about in the city on Saturday will have encountered the long queues of cars; literally miles of frustrated drivers and passengers, sweltering in the warm sun, slowly edging forward in queues that ran through Portsea, the city centre, and caused knock-on problems in Southsea, Eastney and Milton and beyond.

It is preposterous that disruptive roadworks were planned for a summer weekend. It would be folly on any June Saturday, but to schedule them at the same time as major events on Southsea Common and the naval base is careless in the extreme.

Admittedly, while everyone else enjoyed the glorious weather at the weekend, it was a bad result for those doing the works – had it been a rainy day no doubt many who came would have stayed away. And yes, we entirely admit that hindsight makes analysis a lot easier.

However, we fear that this weekend will have damaged our city’s standing to many visitors. At The News we received many messages from angry drivers – one woman had come from Bath to visit her family, and said it took her two hours to reach Old Portsmouth from the M27 junction.

Anyone else with a similar experience would be absolutely justified in being put off from returning to Portsmouth, and this would be a crying shame, just as the city is really establishing itself anew as a place with plenty to offer tourists and day-trippers.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson has said he is appalled at what happened, and we trust he will look at the process which allowed the decision to be made – and make sure there is never a repeat.

There is not a lot we can do with the road system in Portsmouth – we’re an island with not much room to manoeuvre. But it is possible to mitigate the disruption of roadworks and other events which affect the road network. In this case there was a complete failure to do so. It was a shambles.