Improving local infrastructure and transport, along with local planning issues across Fareham, are important priorities for me. We need to keep investing in proper travel connections and the services to support people in their work and leisure time.
The future developments at Welborne and North Whitely have led to concerns regarding traffic on the M27. Many local people have complained of journey times from Fareham to Southampton of at least an hour, and up to two hours during busy periods – a journey that takes only 20 minutes without traffic. Many of these concerns centre of the Whitely Junction 9 exit, where daily traffic jams and queues extend from the slip road onto the motorway at rush hour times. This has been reported travelling both East and West on the motorway to Fareham and Hedge End respectively.
I know residents are also concerned about Junction 10, particularly in light of the new Welborne development. Many have expressed a need for works to the junction to update the infrastructure to ensure a minimal impact from the extra cars that will be using the junction after the development.
This situation impacts significantly on quality of life and economic productivity, and I believe it is vital that the M27 is updated to prevent the delays that have become an everyday occurrence for many commuters. I am continuing to lobby Transport ministers and the local authority to ensure this becomes a priority, and have welcomed the announcement of increased spending on road improvements by the government.
Train and bus connections
Reliable train services are also vital for local people. Many constituents have raised with me their concerns about commuting times from Fareham to London. This relatively short distance of around 80 miles takes an hour and 40 minutes for fast trains, and nearly two hours for regular trains.
Despite being over 50 miles further, it is quicker to travel from Birmingham to London than it is from Fareham to London. This isn’t good enough, and I am keen to ensure a faster connection from Fareham to London. I have joined other south-coast MPs in raising these concerns in the context of the renewal of South West Trains’ franchise, due in 2017.
I know many people are also concerned about local buses. In many areas, the bus is essential to get people to work, education or health services, and the reliability of the services makes a big difference to people’s quality of life. I am campaigning to get First Buses, the local bus provider to offer more services in and around Fareham, especially in the Western Wards.
I have raised the issue of buses in Fareham in Parliament with the Transport Minister, and expressed concern that local authority funding for local bus services has been reduced by £1.5 million, leaving areas in the constituency such as Whiteley, Locks Heath and Warsash with virtually no bus service.
Older people in particular have raised concerns over the diminished service. Connections between Fareham and Gosport and Fareham for volunteering or work and the Queen Alexandra Hospital have been raised with me many times. Constituents have complained these services are often late or delayed. I have continued to raise issues such as these specific cases with the local authority and bus companies.
Planning and housing
Ensuring that we provide adequate, affordable housing for a growing population is a national priority, and one which matters locally to people in Fareham too. But it is vital that new developments take place in the right places, and that they are properly supported by adequate local infrastructure. The planning process has to strike the right
balance between providing the homes we need for the next generation, and ensuring that we preserve the character and beauty of our existing towns and villages.
I support the outline plans for new housing developments at Welborne and North Whiteley, but have raised with the local authorities the concerns of local people about their potential impact on infrastructure and local services. I will continue to champion the interests of local people, who want to ensure that these large developments take proper account of local feeling.