Walkway will be great – after a long, long wait

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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FOR those of us used to meeting deadlines, whether it be for paying a bill, fulfilling a task or simply arriving at the stated place at the stated time, it beggars belief that 11 years after we celebrated the millennium, Portsmouth City Council still has not managed to deliver in full the promised walkway to mark this great moment in time.

The Millennium Walkway plan was, on paper at least, simple enough – a chain ‘link’ path from Old Portsmouth’s Round Tower to the Historic Dockyard.

Surely none of us who learned of the proposal in the late 1990s would have for even one moment imagined that part of it would still be on the drawing board by the time 2011 came around.

Now we are told that an agreement is close. Not before time, many might say.

City council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who inherited the problem of the unfinished path from previous administrations, says that legal negotiations have proved ‘difficult.’ You can say that again, Gerald!

Now though there appears to be light at the end of what has been a very, very long tunnel.

The council leader says that there could be a full agreement within six months, if not sooner to deliver the trail’s final section, a covered walkway through Portsmouth Harbour railway station, connecting Gunwharf Quays to the historic dockyard.

Progress was always going to need the agreement of the different parties involved, but for it to take more than a decade will leave most council taxpayers lost for words.

In the interests though of looking forward, let us say that it is good that a final resolution is in sight, not least because the council is obliged to fulfil its promises to the Millennium Commission for fear of having to repay public money given for the scheme.

And successful completion of the path will add a new and dynamic dimension to this historic quarter of our great city.

Like our famous tower, let us hope that history shows the full Millennium Walkway to be great, albeit after arriving embarrassingly late.