HUNDREDS of bus users have signed a petition calling for a new park-and-ride scheme to go to Southsea.
Buses from the multimillion-pound transport hub in Tipner, Portsmouth, call at The Hard and the city centre.
But the city’s Conservative group believes passengers should also be taken to Southsea since the council has always promoted a ‘three-centre retail strategy’ – including the city centre, Gunwharf and Southsea
As a result, Tory members set up a stall in the northern precinct of Palmerston Road where people could sign a petition. So far, 300 signatures have been collected and if the petition attracts more than 500 it can be debated at a future council meeting.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, the deputy Conservative group leader who represents Eastney and Craneswater, said: ‘For many years, the council has had a plan that says there are three centres in Portsmouth.
‘One of the things that holds Southsea back is a lack of parking. The park-and-ride is the council’s way of solving parking problems and Southsea should be included.’
City council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it would cost taxpayers an extra £400,000 a year in order to run park-and-ride buses to Southsea.
The subsidy that the council provides for bus transport each year is £550,000.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the extra cost would take into account the need for extra drivers and more buses.
Changes are also being made to Stagecoach Bus’ number 23 bus service so passengers can travel to Southsea via The Hard every 10 minutes. The move will come into force next month.
‘The park-and-ride could go to Southsea,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.
‘But the additional cost to taxpayers would be £400,000, and what we’ve done for the first time ever, is get a bus that connects Commercial Road, Gunwharf Quays and Southsea. It’s good news that at long last, the three shopping centres will be linked.’
As previously reported, Baroness Susan Kramer, the government’s transport minister, unveiled a plaque at the park and ride last week.