Minister says M27 congestion will be tackled

John Hayes
John Hayes

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A TRANSPORT minister says he will order the Highways Agency to look at congestion on the M27.

Roads minister John Hayes said that he was committed to creating a ‘strategic and planned approach’ to roads on a visit to Warsash Maritime Academy yesterday.

Mr Hayes said: ‘We have put into place a road investment strategy, a five-year plan with the funding to back it.

‘No more of this ad hoc piecemeal funding of roads, where we didn’t really know what was happening from one year to the next. It is a long-term plan.’

The minister was on the visit to mark the start of Maritime Skills Week, an initiative to boost training in the maritime industry.

As part of that trip, he visited Warsash Maritime Academy, part of Southampton Solent University, and then went on to the university’s campus in Southampton.

When challenged over the traffic on the M27, and the potential for this to grow with more houses planned, Mr Hayes told The News he would work with officials to look at the problems.

He said: ‘As a result of my visit, I am going to ask the Highways Agency to look at particular issues associated with that road.

‘I would be shortchanging local people if I came here and didn’t say that I was prepared to ask the officials to look at the specifics. I don’t know what can be done, there’s no promises at this stage, but I am certainly prepared to take another look at it.’

He said that he was particularly keen to look at ways to support safety and ease congestion through a ‘more intelligent use of the network’ such as using technology.

The news was welcomed by Fareham’s council leader Sean Woodward, who said: ‘There are definitely improvements needed and I am glad that the minister has got the M27 in his sights.’

Mr Hayes said he wants to boost Britain’s ports and maritime industry.

He said: ‘There is a real enthusiasm from the government for our ports and all they mean for our economy and our future.’

Hardworking cadets show they have got what it takes

BOOSTING skills in the maritime industry and promoting the range of maritime careers on offer were the reasons Transport Minister John Hayes paid a visit to Warsash Maritime Academy.

The academy, which is part of Southampton Solent University, offers a wide range of maritime courses.

The visit marked the start of Maritime Skills Week, an initiative run by the government and maritime industries to promote the UK’s maritime skills and to raise awareness about the high standard of the UK’s maritime training.

Mr Hayes was taken on a guided tour of the campus, including seeing the centre’s ship deck simulators.

A firefighting demonstration was put on where cadets dealt with a simulated helicopter crash on board a ship and the minister met engineering cadets in the workshop.

Mr Hayes said: ‘We are focusing on all the things we can do to maintain our premier position.

‘I want to make our maritime future as glorious as our maritime past, and all the skills associated with that are incredibly important to maintain the economic importance to our country.

‘Training, preparing a new generation of seafarers, is vitally important to retain our maritime pre-eminence.’

Andrew Hair, director of the academy, said: ‘As an island nation we are heavily dependent on seaborne trade. It is important that we have the next generation of seafarers coming through.’

Commitment to boost ferry links to island

IMPROVING links to the Isle of Wight will be the subject of a review and a debate will be set up to discuss ideas.

Transport minister John Hayes said he would look at finding a way of improving access to the island, including ferry links from Portsmouth.

The minister spoke about the subject in a House of Commons debate earlier this month when it was brought up by Island MP Andrew Turner. Mr Hayes reinforced his commitment to action yesterday.

He said: ‘We need to look at a solution. I have suggested that we have a round table, that we talk about integration with the ferry services with other transport. I know how vital those ferry services are.’