A government minister has cut the ribbon on a new multi-million-pound transport hub, hailing it a ‘fantastic addition’ to Portsmouth.
Roads minister Jesse Norman officially opened the £9.2m Hard Interchange, in The Hard, in Portsea.
He was given a tour of the new facility, as well as being briefed on the ideas Portsmouth City Council has to cut air pollution and improve its transport offering.
‘The new Hard Interchange is absolutely fantastic,’ he said.
‘It’s bringing together different modes of transport which is very valuable.’
During his whistle-stop tour, the politician was shown one of Portsmouth’s new charging stations for electric cars, in Southsea – one of the first of 59 such points set to be rolled out across the city.
Mr Norman was also told about plans for the city’s Boris bike-style cycle hire scheme.
He said: ‘This is fantastic for the people of Portsmouth. We want people of all ages and backgrounds to be involved in active transport.
‘It’s good for them psychologically, it’s good for the local economy, good for high streets and it’s good for air quality.’
Last year the World Health Organisation slammed Portsmouth for its poor air quality, saying residents were breathing too many harmful fumes.
Responding to this, Mr Norman said the government would do everything it could to slash pollution levels.
‘There are some issues here that need to be tackled, as there are in many cities around the country,’ he said. ‘We take this issue very seriously and we are devoting a lot of money to it now and in the years to come.’
Tory council leader, Donna Jones said the new interchange was a key addition to the city, which has 11 million visitors a year. She said: ‘This is a great example of a regeneration of a really important part of the city.’
Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, welcomed the opening of the hub but said the government was ‘failing’ to deliver investment elsewhere in the city.
He said: ‘Portsmouth is a brilliant city but it’s a city that can do even better.
‘We’ve got air pollution levels that are far too high, we’ve got a third of children living in poverty, we’ve got social care in crisis.
‘That’s why we need to make sure we see the investment that Portsmouth needs. It’s a city that’s on the up but that’s sadly been let down too often by the government.’