Council Leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson responded today in a virtual full council meeting to the recent petition received from Pompey Street Space which was presented by Dr Jonathan Lake
My Lord Mayor
Can I first put on record my thanks to Dr Jonathan Lake for presenting the petition here today and for all those involved in the campaign. It has been good to talk with Dr Lake, and other members of the Pompey Street Space campaign to understand the specific requests they have and to look to address these issues as well as those mentioned in the petition.
From the beginning, can I say that the administration here at the City Council agrees with the overall aim of the campaign and looks forward to working constructively with like-minded people to achieve the aims.
Air pollution is a real problem here in Portsmouth. There are debates about the levels of air pollution, and we will see a report soon that says that in most parts of the city air quality improved in 2019, whilst many thought it would get worse. But we have a real issue here, and we have real hotspots that exceed Government targets. But even if we did not we should be taking action to reduce air pollution. The City Council has some power to do this, the Government much more, but there are some things that are probably out of either the Council's or the Government's control. But we need to do the things we can to help improve air quality, and we will.
Secondly the petition talks about making our city safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Again this is an aim that the administration here at the City Council agrees with and supports. If we can encourage more journeys to be taken in the city on foot, bike or bus this reduces congestion improves road safety and reduces air pollution.
The City Council has made significant strides to achieve the objectives of this petition already.
I have met with Dr Lake and others from the Pompey Street Space campaign and with Rachel Hudson from Portsmouth Friends of the Earth. I'm really pleased to have had these discussions and to have heard specific requests from them. They are:
I am happy to support each of these five requests, we will need to look at the practicalities of all of these. Having physically separated cycle lanes will be more expensive than the current model, and the City Council will be able to do fewer cycle lanes if we do this, but the ones put in may be more popular and therefore more successful. I think the cross-party group is a good idea, and to show the level of support for this from the Administration at the City Council, I will volunteer to serve on this so that we can have a whole council view of how to implement things, not just from one department. There are existing plans around transport planning and many other things, and the creation of these will need to proceed as normal so the City Council can access Government funding.
Unfortunately, the City Council does not have the legal powers London councils have to enforce things like School Streets, and we hope our local MPs will be able to change this to give the City Council powers in this area.
So My Lord Mayor, I'd like to welcome the petition, welcome the idea that this campaign will move to be a cross-party campaign, and welcome the changes in the city that we will all work to achieve.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Leader. Portsmouth City Council
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