Council considers congestion charge for Portsmouth

GRIDLOCK Traffic queuing to get out of the city in Hilsea
GRIDLOCK Traffic queuing to get out of the city in Hilsea
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CONGESTION charging could come to Portsmouth in an effort to finally eliminate major traffic congestion.

Transport leaders have revealed it is part of a long-term masterplan to unclog roads and ensure motorists travelling in and out of the city keep moving.

The system, which would be modelled on the one operating in London, would aim to persuade visitors to ditch their cars and use public transport instead.

Charging motorists to drive in the heart of the capital has helped to get 60,000 drivers off the road each day since the initiative was introduced in 2003. It is one of a number of ideas being looked at to tackle traffic problems head on in the next two decades.

Councillor Ken Ellcome, Portsmouth City Council’s Tory cabinet member for traffic and transport, said: ‘The layout of Portsmouth’s road network – with three routes in and out – could potentially make it easy to set up, but we’re looking well into the future here.

‘It’s impossible to say what charges might be but I would anticipate, as with London, residents would receive a very significant discount.’

Simon Moon, the city council’s head of transport and environment, warned if nothing drastic is done then roads will grind to a halt.

‘Families from potential new developments such as Welborne will want to come to Portsmouth for leisure opportunities and if nothing is done to control that then we could be faced with gridlock,’ he said.

But Councillor Sean Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said congestion charging would do a lot of harm, and building on the success of the park and ride would be better.

‘If the council wants to make sure nobody ever visits Portsmouth again, then it would be a good idea,’ he said.

‘It would finish Portsmouth, in terms of its tourist attractions.

‘London is a bit different because it has got many other ways of getting in that doesn’t require the car.’

Other ideas include building another park-and-ride site that takes passengers into the city via Eastern Road.

Pompey fans could be bussed to Fratton Park from a park and ride, though it’s hoped the club would help to subsidise the service.

Pompey spokesman Colin Farmery gave his backing.

‘We would be interested in looking at any scheme which will make things easier for our fans to get to Fratton Park,’ he said.

Cllr Ellcome said: ‘Some of the possible options are quite drastic, but if measures aren’t taken the situation for Portsmouth would be an unthinkable level of gridlock.’

Many of the schemes won’t work unless there is a major cash injection from the government or other sources.

It cost £160m to bring a congestion zone to London but it has netted £1.2bn in 11 years. In the short term, the city council could bring park-and-ride buses to Southsea in time for this year’s Christmas shopping season.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said it was down to local authorities to decide whether to bring in a congestion charge scheme.