At first glance, one could be forgiven for being underwhelmed by the report on transport that has been released today.
The Solent LEP – a worthy, if not hugely exciting body – has put together the dossier as it says that transport is key to laying the ground for economic prosperity in the area. So far so good, but in a region where we have been promised the gamut of exciting developments at one time or another – trams, light railways, super-highways and tunnels under the harbour between Portsmouth and Gosport – it would seem to be light on detail (there is no mention, for example, of a plan to issue everyone with a personal drone which they can use to be airlifted to work each morning, which must surely be an oversight).
And so there may be people who criticise this plan, but to do so because of an absence of headline-grabbing pledges would be to miss the point. The issue is that this document should be seen as a diagnostic tool, or, if you like, a warning. In its measured – and quite lengthy – way, it outlines not just what would make all of our lives easier, but why it would.
And there is plenty of food for thought in there. There are the calculations of how many homes will be needed in the coming years to house people to do the extra jobs that are due to be created. And these will lead to extra traffic.
There are explanations of ‘self-containment’ in cities – ie, whether people who live in Portsmouth work in Portsmouth too. That number is dropping – which means people are travelling further to work, and so there are more cars on the road.
And so this leads to the conclusion – one ably argued in the plan – that we need more money here from the government to put into effect the basic schemes outlined, such as the Solent Transit, or the improved rail services. It demonstrates that we are lagging behind large parts of the country.
So this report is a job well – but only half – done. Now the real work starts... to get that cash from the government to fund what we want. This is a lobbying tool, and we sincerely hope it proves a successful one. Now it’s over to the MPs to apply pressure.