Traffic boss sticks by decision to not axe Portsmouth bus lane

The bus lane coming into Portsmouth
The bus lane coming into Portsmouth
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THE councillor in charge of traffic in Portsmouth says he is standing by his decision not to axe a controversial bus lane leading into the city centre.

But Cllr Ken Ellcome insists there is no tension between him and the leader of the council, Cllr Donna Jones.

It comes despite Cllr Jones declaring she will review her Tory colleague’s plans to trim back the bus lane between Havisham Road and Church Street by around 25 metres, rather than take it out.

Cllr Ellcome concluded at a public meeting the route would be cut back to allow all traffic to turn into Church Street sooner and the move should hopefully ease congestion. And he said it would not be in the interests of public transport users and the city’s park-and-ride if the bus lane, introduced last year, was removed entirely.

Cllr Ellcome said: ‘There is no tension on my side at all.

‘I spoke to her after the meeting and it was a brief, amiable conversation about the fact she wants to review my decision, and that’s her right as executive leader of the council.

‘But I think I have made the right decision. It’s one of those things where we could go with Donna’s solution, and we find it doesn’t work, and we go with mine and it doesn’t work. We could find there is no solution to getting rid of the queues because there is congestion in any city.’

But he said Cllr Jones sees removing the bus lane as having ‘political benefit’ – which he is unsure about.

Cllr Jones said she had a ‘good relationship’ with her cabinet and this is the only time she has wanted a decision by a colleague be rethought.

She is meeting traffic officers on Monday to talk more about her idea – which she first put forward earlier this month after motorists demanded changes be made.

‘The cabinet members are brilliant. I have a good relationship with all of them,’ she said. ‘There is no tension with Ken and he understands the situation. It’s not a big issue at all.’

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘This seems to be a muddled situation and no-one seems to know what is going on. I was interested by Donna’s original proposal as I didn’t think it was going to work.’