Portsmouth shortlisted for £840m fund to overhaul transport, prime minister reveals 

Cash could be used to improve transport links between Portsmouth and the wider area
Cash could be used to improve transport links between Portsmouth and the wider area
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PORTSMOUTH is one of two areas in Hampshire shortlisted to bid for a share of an £840m fund to overhaul vital transport links, prime minister Theresa May has announced.

The area has been named as one of 10 city regions shortlisted nationwide to bid for a slice of the cash, with Southampton also in the running.

Theresa May has announced the fund. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

Theresa May has announced the fund. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

And the region could gain an addition £60m boast this year to kick-start transport upgrades already in the pipeline.

Portsmouth must now put its case forward forward for the windfall, which could fund schemes to improve cycle routes or upgrade connections between ports and the city centres. Cash could also be to fund measures looking to improve air quality.

The local authorities will each receive £50,000 in government funding and bespoke support to develop their proposals and make their strongest cases for investment.

The government says it is already investing in transport across the south east, from £350m to improve the South Coast A27 Corridor, including a new bypass of Arundel, and a £186m upgrade of the M3 to begin in 2019.

Prime minister Theresa May said: ‘The south east is home to 8.9 million people, with nearly 195,000 more small businesses since 2010 – all helping to create a Britain that is fit for the future.

‘As part of our modern industrial strategy, improvements to vital infrastructure will help spread growth beyond London and empower local businesses to create more, better-paying jobs.

‘It is great news that the Portsmouth and south east Hampshire city region and Southampton have been shortlisted for the Transforming Cities Fund.

‘The £840m fund will support upgrades for better, safer, faster transport links, opening up more opportunities to help people get on in life and be rewarded for their hard work.’

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, welcomed the news and said ‘any extra money is useful’.

He added: ‘If I said one thing that would help the whole of the Solent area it would be to improve the journey times between Southampton and Portsmouth.

‘It’s so slow. If we can have a fast, reliable and efficient railway service between the two cities, that I think could significantly reduce the number of people who went by car.

‘The London to Portsmouth line is very dotty and very slow. We’re achieving the same journey times as in the Victorian era.’

Transport secretary Chris Grayling visited Portsmouth earlier this year and said the city had already made a ‘strong start’ to its bid.

He added the bid by the city region would include measures to improve connections into Portsmouth from Fareham, Waterlooville and Havant as well as ‘potentially boosting links’ between Fareham and Gosport.

In a statement to The News, Mr Grayling said: ‘We will be working with Portsmouth and South East Hampshire along with all shortlisted cities, to help them to seize this opportunity to potentially turn their ambitions into reality.

‘For when cities and areas like this one improve their transport systems – the benefits extend far outside of the local area.

‘That’s because our cities turbocharge this country’s economic growth - creating jobs, growth, progress and prosperity for the nation as a whole.’

The shortlist is the next stage of the £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund to support cities improve transport connections, making it easier, safer and quicker for people to travel and get to work.

Over the next four years, the new allocation of funding from the Transforming Cities Fund will be used to improve links between city centres and suburbs in further city regions across England, increasing access to jobs and helping ensure that businesses have the infrastructure they need to thrive.

The fund has already delivered major improvements for people across England including the Brierley Hill tram lines in the West Midlands and the Beeline Cycle Network in Greater Manchester - set to be the largest network of its kind in the UK.