Ranil Jayawardena MP—Opinion Piece July 2019

Better roads for everyone

A functioning road network is vital in a predominantly rural constituency like ours. It gets people to and from work within our constituency and beyond, it connects family and friends, and it can even help people keep fit if they’re on two wheels. This is why better roads are an integral part of ‘Our Plan’ – six priorities for making North East Hampshire an even better place to live and work for everyone. And because ‘Our Plan’ really is for everyone, I want to see our roads improve as much for cyclists and pedestrians as for car users.

The biggest challenge for any authority in maintaining its road work is potholes. They can be a real – and sometimes expensive – nuisance for motorists and can be genuinely dangerous for cyclists and motorcyclists. Constant exposure to the elements means that no road is immune, so early reporting is paramount, enabling Hampshire County Council to fix the pothole promptly before it gets any worse. If you see a pothole, please report it – bit.ly/roadrepairs – and please also think about joining my team of ‘pothole busters’ to make sure that all our roads are looked after properly. You can find out more about how to do this by sending me an email to: email@ranil.uk.

We must think bigger than repairs though, and many of the improvements I know residents would like to see will require extensive planning and funding. This is becoming even more critical in the context of new homes being built in and around North East Hampshire, bringing more people and more road users. We cannot wait for our roads to fill up before we tackle the problem, which is why we need to start thinking now about how our infrastructure needs to change and improve – solutions such as redualling the A30 between Hook and Hartley Wintney, as well as building some bypasses around some of our towns and villages to alleviate pressure.

I said ‘Our Plan’ should work for cyclists and pedestrians too, and that’s why I and many others would like to see a proper cycle network connecting Fleet and Yateley to surrounding villages. A narrow strip at the side of the road just isn’t going to cut it. If we’re serious about this, we need off-road cycleways separate from car traffic and wide enough to accommodate walkers as well. This will require imagination and dedication, but I’m up for the challenge. Please let me know if you’d like to help.

I want to hear as many suggestions as possible and I’m always willing to work with anyone who is serious about solving these problems. To this end, I’ll be holding meetings and putting together a local ‘highways action team’ in order to pool our ideas and hammer out solutions. If you’re interested in shaping the future of our transport network, please do get in touch, or attend one of my regular ‘Tell Ranil’ events around the constituency. Details, as ever, are on my website.