Hampshire is the ‘forgotten’ part of UK’s roads plan, ex-council leaders says

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Traffic on the M27
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HAMPSHIRE is the forgotten part of Britain’s road infrastructure, a former council leader has claimed.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson launched a stinging attack on what he says has been a long-term lack of investment in the area’s major highways by central government.

We are being forgotten about... Yet we’re the part of the country that is the economic powerhouse of the UK

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson

The comments come after fresh figures, released by the Department for Transport, show the nation’s roads are becoming increasingly clogged with traffic.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson, head of Portsmouth City Council’s Liberal Democrat party and a former leader of the authority, said a ‘culture change’ was urgently needed to improve the woeful state of the county’s congested motorways.

He said: ‘We are being forgotten about.

‘When you look on the map at where all the motorway infrastructure and investment is, it is up in the north.

‘Yet we’re the part of the country that is the economic powerhouse of the UK.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s comments come less than a week after the government pledged to hand over £25.7m to build the much-anticipated Stubbington bypass.

The DoT figures, revealed yesterday, show a record level of traffic jamming up the nation’s roads, prompting calls from motoring experts for action to be taken.

The stats show there were 320.5bn vehicle miles travelled in 2016, up 1.2 per cent on the previous year, according to Department for Transport data. This is the most ever recorded, and is two per cent more than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.

Traffic on motorways and rural A roads increased to new record levels last year, rising by 2.1 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

RAC public affairs spokesman Nick Lyes said: ‘Motorists, who are paying in excess of £40bn a year in overall motoring taxation, will find it incredibly frustrating that they are having to deal with clogged-up roads with these provisional figures showing that traffic levels hit an all-time high in 2016.’

The news came as the city council’s leadership yesterday reviewed a £150m investment plan for Portsea island – which includes a £5m fund for key transport projects.

Included in these proposals are plans for a major revamp of the M275, creating a new road into the city, which is hoped will tackle congestion problems by removing the roundabouts.

This will be debated at the next full council meeting on Tuesday.