It’s no secret that congestion and long queues have long plagued Portishead, thought by some to be the ‘largest cul-de-sac in Europe’. To keep Portishead moving, we need to have a good transport system within the town with clear connections to nearby towns, Bristol, and the wider region.
We have the M5 motorway within reach, connecting Portishead to the rest of the UK, and whilst it's unreliable and often has delays, Portishead’s bus services have been widely recognised by Bus Operators to have the potential to really thrive. Residents in Portishead East ward face major issues with connectivity and transport, and I want to change this.
The marina and village quarter, whilst lovely to live in, have poor road layouts that have contributed to poor parking - this has made getting out and about difficult for residents, bin lorries, emergency services, and has caused bus services to be cancelled at a moments notice, which itself increases residents’ reliance on cars and limits the freedoms of those who cannot drive. Working with transport officers to keep these key roads like Newfoundland Road and Phoenix Way clear and flowing is a huge priority of mine if elected.
Portishead has one main artery connecting to Bristol and the rest of the UK, and when that gets cut off, it has a knock-on effect on how Portishead operates, putting pressure on local roads that are not designed to cope with heavy traffic. For this reason, we will need to make sure the residents can move about freely with their day without being held up.
We will also have to consider how residents can access to the rest of Portishead spontaneously without being restricted to a private vehicle. Reliable and safe walking and cycling routes can play a key role in this, but for those with further mobility restrictions - the Town Council and North Somerset Council need to look into local community transport to make getting about to the shops and places like the Lake Grounds an easy and pleasant experience.
Pushed along with the help of the passion and commitment of Liberal Democrats in North Somerset Council, like Cllr Huw James and Cllr Ashley Cartman, the Portishead Railway is back on track with a Development Consent Order being inspected by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate and due a response from the Secretary of State with the final decision in November. This project is going to enable local residents so much, providing a better connection to Bristol and the rest of the UK, taking vehicles off the road, and opening Portishead up to further growth and investment in the local economy and local businesses. I fully support this project.
Is this enough? No, we will need to look into developing means for residents to get about in Portishead and beyond. For example, we could work with the local bus companies to develop new services to enable residents to visit places that are currently not directly accessible by public transport, like to the Lake Grounds. There are concerns about having sufficient parking spaces for the proposed railway station, and I would push Bus Operators to create a local loop that connects Portishead with the station without interacting with the gridlock of the Portbury Hundred and beyond. For this to be done best, it should coincide with the arrival and departure of all train services.
Bus routes in Portishead East can be unreliable at the best of times, and that why I would push for North Somerset to explore a Bus Franchise model with the West of England Combined Authority. Let's take back control of our local buses so that franchises run from Aberdeen can't dictate which local roots stay and which routes, like our precious route to Cribbs Causeway, go.
More people are now cycling as a result of the recent lockdown and we will want to keep encouraging this. We need to develop cycle routes in and around Portishead, creating secure cycle paths that give people the confidence to get about, enable children to ride to school safely, and allow drivers to feel safe and secure on the roads.
There are lots of ideas to consider supporting the residents to get about, and if elected, I will listen and work with everyone in Portishead to find a way forward.