Southampton's Labour administration has been accused of having a "haphazard and unhearing" approach to local transport, with their management of the city's Green Transport Plan and 'pop-up' cycle lanes having caused controversy across the city.
The effect of introducing these pop-up cycle lanes, on roads including Bassett Avenue and Bitterne Road West, has been to rebalance the space available among different road-users, causing consternation amongst some. There are fears that when road traffic approaches normal pre-COVID levels, it will see a return to gridlock and misery for residents and road-users.
Bassett campaigner Richard Blackman says:
Whilst we support the growth of the cycle lane network in Southampton, the way the Labour council has gone about implementing the changes has been haphazard and unhearing.
Local people don't feel like they've had a say, and that this scheme has been forced upon them.
Whilst many of the people I've spoken to broadly agree with me that it's a good thing to reduce motor traffic on roads like Bassett Avenue, they're frustrated that they were not consulted, and their views are apparently of no interest to this Labour administration. The Labour Council needs to work with others across administrative and political boundaries to make this a reality.
Southampton Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson Sam Chapman says:
For many residents, cycling and public transport are realistic options for getting into the city centre. But for hundreds of thousands of people visiting our city every year, whether they be workers, shoppers, football supporters or tourists, the city must provide a viable and attractive alternative to driving.
It's basic stuff - if you want to get more people out of cars and into greener, more sustainable transport, you have to give them the opportunities to do so. A Park & Ride facility is the obvious answer.
Labour just don't seem to be able to get the basics right.
Lib Dem-controlled Winchester City Council already has four Park & Ride sites, with a new one set to be developed with £5.65million of government funding. Portsmouth City Council - also managed by a Liberal Democrat administration - plans to upgrade their current Park & Ride facility owing to the popularity of the scheme.
Critics of a Park & Ride network to serve Southampton insist that a lack of obvious potential Park & Ride sites within city boundaries means that such a scheme could never get off the ground. However, there's no reason to insist that any potential site has to be located within city boundaries, and could just as well be outside. Indeed, there is local precedent for this option.
Sam Chapman says:
The Park & Ride facility at Adanac Park, on the western fringe of the city, is well-used by hospital staff.
The fact that it does not fall under the jurisdiction of Southampton City Council, but that of Test Valley Borough Council, demonstrates that neighbouring local authorities are amenable to projects like this that will serve a much wider community.
Richard Blackman says:
Our city is full of reasons to visit - arts and culture, history and sport, retail and restaurants - and naturally people want to come here to enjoy those amenities.
But if you don't want all of those visitors driving into the city centre, you must provide both somewhere for them to park that is outside of the city, and a convenient means for them to reach their destination.
To me, Park & Ride is the obvious solution.
If you would like to pledge your support for a Park & Ride network for Southampton, you can do so here: https://www.southampton-libdems.org.uk/park_and_ride.