The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin visited Eastleigh this week to learn more about some the town’s traffic problems first hand – although the visit attracted the attention of placard carrying Ukip activists.
McLouglin spoke to the Conservative candidate for Eastleigh Mims Davies, local Conservative councillors and members of the public about transport and traffic issues including congestion, pollution and the perennial topic of the longed-for Chickenhall Lane relief road for the grid-locked town’s air quality management areas.
Eastleigh News asked the minister if a re-elected Conservative government could deliver the missing link.
While seeming sympathetic McLouglin avoided making any promises but insisted that he had “never had any difficulty in getting money from the treasury” and that a Conservative government would be committed to investing in transport infrastructure.
Afterwards Local resident and air quality campaigner Simon Payne said that his chat with the minister and Mims Davies left him “hopeful” that a solution for a Chickenhall Lane link road can be found:
“For me a relief road is needed not just to solve congestion and air pollution. I think it is also needed for jobs. A link road could open up the far side of the airfield for jobs which again would benefit the area.”
The Minister also outlined improvements for commuters using the Railway with £38 Billion pounds due to be spent on the rail network
While Mims Davies and the Secretary were giving a scheduled press briefing outside the town’s Railway Station a small group of Ukip activists arrived carrying Ukip placards aloft causing the Conservatives to cut the session short.
Afterwards one of the Ukip demonstrators, the County Councillor for Eastleigh East Andy Moore, explained why they did it.
Moore – who is also the Deputy Leader of the Ukip group on Hampshire County Council – explained that he thought the minister was falsely trying to claim credit on behalf of the Conservatives for the £2 million pounds worth of improvements currently being undertaken on the station approach and forecourt.
“It was Ukip county councillors that have done the improvements at Eastleigh Railway Station.” said Cllr Moore
“Not the Conservatives and not the Liberal Democrats. It was Ukip that did the work .
We were of the opinion that the Conservative transport minister came down to say what a good job he was doing at Eastleigh train Station.
Totally untrue. We done it. Ukip done it. Your Ukip County Councillors.”
A Council spokesperson has told Eastleigh News the station improvements were due to a:
“Partnership project between South West Trains, Hampshire County Council and Eastleigh Borough Council which is being funded as a result of a successful bid to the Department of Transport along with developers contributions and funding from South West Trains.”
Despite the disruption to his schedule the Transport Minister still had a message for the Ukip protestors:
“The simple choice for anybody who voted Ukip who wants a referendum on Europe is to vote conservative that’s the only way they are going to get one.”
Mims Davies added:
“People have made their protest vote in Eastleigh but this is about the next five years of government, about having the right voice.
“People want to have a proper MP standing up for them in Westminster and holding the local council to account.”
Patrick McLoughlin described Mims Davies as an “excellent” candidate.
“In the short time she has been candidate she has moved here, adapted herself to the area, got to know the area, understands the area and I think would be an excellent voice for Eastleigh.”
The other following candidates standing for election in Eastleigh are:
Declan Clune – TUSC
Mark Latham- Labour
Mike Thornton – Liberal Democrat
Patricia Culligan -Ukip
Ray Hall – Beer, Baccy and Scratchings
Ron Meldrum – Green