Congestion charge is not the road to go down

It’s important the parade continues – but safely

Have your say

Yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there are times when one simply has to crow about being right, back in the day.

Today it gives us no great pleasure to say: ‘Told you so.’

Throughout the 1980s ’90s and into the early years of the new century, this newspaper championed the cause of what we and everyone else dubbed ‘the supertram’. In the jargon it was the South Hampshire Light Rapid Transit system.

For those who might be new to the area, this was a tram system which would run from Fareham to Gosport on the route of the old branch railway line, ‘cross’ Portsmouth Harbour in a tunnel beneath the seabed, emerge at The Hard in Portsmouth and make its way up Queen Street and along Edinburgh Road before terminating and turning around in Commercial Road.

There were plans to extend it north up the A3 to Waterlooville and Horndean and eventually join the dots by building a link between Fareham and Southampton.

In 2005 transport secretary Alistair Darling dumped the scheme which had been planned for 20 years. The £270m price tag was too great he decided.

Oh, what folly. We missed that tram and now we are paying the traffic-choked price for such short-sightedness.

Look where we might be now – akin to Croydon, Sheffield and Manchester with tram systems used by millions who once swore they would never give up their cars.

Which brings us to the batty idea that a small island city with water on three sides and only a trio of roads into and out of it, might introduce a congestion charge for motorists.

This is the city which is proudly trying to ditch its old industrial image and rebrand itself as one of Britain’s/Europe’s/the world’s top tourist destinations.

It’s a city which is desperately attempting to woo new industry and thousands of new workers.

We want to welcome them with open arms, not drive them away by asking them to cough up, say £15, each time they inch on to Portsea Island. This is not the answer. The supertram system was.