THE councillor in charge of traffic in Portsmouth insists he is standing by the leader of the council despite her decision to overrule him and scrap a contentious bus lane.
But Cllr Ken Ellcome said he and Cllr Donna Jones have differences of opinion over how to tackle congestion – and he is unsure what impact removing 100m of bus lane into the city centre will have.
We haven’t fallen out over it – it’s part of life.Councillor Ken Ellcome, Tory cabinet member for traffic and transport
‘I have always known that any leader of the council has executive powers,’ he said.
‘In broad terms we are singing from the same hymn sheet and both of us want to improve traffic flow into the city.
‘We obviously have different views on how that can be achieved.
‘I didn’t have a problem with her making that decision.
‘I don’t think it was necessarily the wrong decision, it’s just not the one I would have made, and she knows that.
‘I made my decision based on what would be the right way to go. We haven’t fallen out over it – it’s part of life.’
Cllr Jones decided to open up the route between Havisham Road and Church Street to all traffic after complaints the lane has caused misery on the city’s roads.
She received 52 emails last week before her decision, with 70 per cent favouring the removal of the bus lane.
The move will cost the council £11,000 – but Cllr Jones hasn’t ruled the route coming back in future years should £22m be found for an improved one-way road network in the city centre.
It is hoped money can be found through bids for cash from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to the government.
Cllr Ellcome added: ‘People have to recognise, the queues coming into the city are no worse than lots of other places like Southampton and Brighton. There are always queues at rush hour.’
Meanwhile, Cllr Ellcome is to set up a motorists’ forum after drivers complained they did not have a voice – whereas taxi and bus firms did.
‘The feeling we have got from people in The News and the emails we have had is the average motorist in the city feels under-represented,’ Cllr Ellcome said.
Council officers have recommended The Institute of Advanced Motorists has an input in the group.
Cllr Ellcome is inviting drivers to join but said membership would be restricted to ensure it is run properly.
To register an interest, send an email to Cllr.Ken.Ellcome@portsmouthcc.gov.uk