£4m Brexit traffic plan at Portsmouth port swings into action after MPs vote through deal

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A MAJOR £4m plan to avoid traffic chaos in Portsmouth after the Brexit transition period will swing into action even after MPs voted through Boris Johnson’s deal.

The government won 521 votes for the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill, to 73 against at its third reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

But planners will still stage a series of triage points for Portsmouth port-bound lorries over fears many will come without the correct paperwork ahead of sailing to the European Union.

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Speed limits southbound on the M275 will drop to 40mph from 8am on January 1, and new signs are already in place. Triage points at Tipner and on the A31 at Winchester have been set up.

A general view of the Portsmouth International Port on December 21, 2020. Picture: Andrew Hasson/Getty ImagesA general view of the Portsmouth International Port on December 21, 2020. Picture: Andrew Hasson/Getty Images
A general view of the Portsmouth International Port on December 21, 2020. Picture: Andrew Hasson/Getty Images

It comes as Havant MP Alan Mak said the prime minister’s deal would mean ‘we take back control of our money, laws and borders’.

He added: ‘We promised to get Brexit done, and this deal delivers that.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said the deal was ‘thin’ and warned he will issue a ‘series of demands’ to government.

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After voting for the deal, Mr Morgan said: ‘This is a thin deal and I have huge misgivings about it. Voting for or against it wasn’t an option before MPs today.

‘The tough, but necessary decision to accept the implementation legislation is one that reflects a long-term effort to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit. It also allows the country to focus once again on the day-to-day priorities that matter to people: fighting the pandemic and rebuilding the economy.

Meon Valley MP Flick Drummond, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and Portsmouth North’s Penny Mordaunt all voted for the deal.

The Bill now goes to the House of Lords, where the debate is expected to continue until around 10.30pm on Wednesday.

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Minutes after the deal won Commons approval, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum said changes to paperwork needed by hauliers would still cause delays around the port.

Disruption is not expected until January 4, when freight sailings from Portsmouth port will start to build up.

This is because between January 1-3 there is due to be less traffic on the roads.

Chief fire officer Neil Odin, who is strategic chair for the forum, said: ‘We have planned for the worst case but, like everyone else, we are hoping for the best case.

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‘As well as the changes for hauliers as a result of leaving the EU, we are faced with a very unique set of circumstances including reduced travel due to Covid-19.

‘There is also the possibility that some will be waiting and see what happens. Demand in the early days is projected to be lower but we expect that will grow with confidence and we need to be ready for that. I would ask people to remain patient whilst that happens.’

He said nothing has been done without ‘good reason’ and come after ‘months of planning’.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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