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Portsmouth MP welcomes new offer of transport funding but says more must come

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed news that Portsmouth and the surrounding area could receive a share of the Transforming Cities Fund.  This will help to improve the city’s transport infrastructure and opens doors to greener travel. But the Mr Morgan has said if Government wants to be serious about tackling climate change, more must come  the city’s way.

In September 2018, Portsmouth City Council working alongside neighbouring local authorities, were shortlisted alongside 12 other regions to bid for a share of the Department for Transport’s £1.28 billion Transforming Cities Fund. This money was allocated by Government in March’s budget public transport improvements across the country, but the Chancellor’s announcements lacked detail on the proposals worked on for south east Hampshire.

Mr Morgan has long supported Portsmouth’s bid for the Transforming Cities Fund, writing letters to Ministers to back up proposals. He has also batted for Portsmouth’s application by raising the issue in parliamentary questions, lobbied the Department for Transport, and last month wrote again to the Transport Secretary following the Budget, making the case for the city again.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome the latest development that Government recognises the need for transport investment across our region.

The unique travel challenges faced by our city mean that comparatively, our area does not perform as well as it could in terms of productivity and competitiveness.

The Transport Secretary’s letter to me offering to invest in connectivity will help to redress this issue, working to tackle poverty, poor health, and reduced productivity in the area. But if we are to make our plans a reality, more support from Government Ministers must come”.

Government opened up two waves of funding. The first for ‘quick win’ financial assistance, and the second where regions have the opportunity to bid for funding to support longer term programmes. Portsmouth was successful in securing £4m of the first wave. March’s Budget announced further funding to local authorities with some outstanding decisions still remaining.

Expressing particular support for the way in which the funding can be used to improve cycling and walking infrastructure, in turn taking forward the city’s declaration of a climate emergency, Mr Morgan added:

“Whilst this funding offer will help bring economic benefits, more must be done to tackle the city’s air pollution crisis and climate emergency. That means the Government stepping up and setting out a plan to guarantee more investment to come in our city’s infrastructure.

Our environment must be at the heart of everything we do. So when Britain starts on the road to recovery after this current coronavirus crisis, we must ensure proper funding in Portsmouth to tackle the climate emergency. More people using sustainable travel will mean improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions.

I welcome the hard work of the local authority on this important agenda and will continue to liaise with the city council and all interested partners. Together we must lobby for further investment in public transport and active travel along with commitments to industry-leading low-emission vehicles, and call on the Government to do much more”.

In a letter sent this week by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP to the Stephen Morgan MP, the Government has confirmed that a request has been made for a revised plan from bidders around a ‘nominal per capita award of around £56m’. It is expected this would support the delivery of a package of public transport and active travel enhancements for the area.