Questions have been raised over the prospect of bus lanes being introduced on one of the main routes into Southampton city centre.

The city council’s Labour leadership was pressed by an opposition councillor over plans for roads on the western approach.

Part of the Southampton region’s £57million Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) allocation included work on a rapid bus route from the Waterside, through Totton and onto Southampton.

Hampshire County Council is in the midst of roadworks to deliver improvements to the A326 between Totton and Applemore.

A Southampton City Council document on the TCF project includes reference to plans for:

  • bus lanes in both directions on Mountbatten Way
  • bus lanes towards Southampton in Millbrook Road West
  • bus lane towards Southampton approaching Millbrook Roundabout

Conservative group deputy leader Cllr Jeremy Moulton asked cabinet member for transport Cllr Eamonn Keogh about the proposals at a city council meeting on May 15.

Cllr Moulton said substantial changes to what was set out in the TCF documents would require Department for Transport approval.

“We are still working with stakeholders about precisely the plans that will go forward,” Cllr Keogh said.

“Whether or not we need to go back to the Department for Transport to request a control change, I am not sure at this stage.”

He added: “When we are working with the bus operators, when we are working with stakeholders, we just need to make sure that when we introduce change that it can be supported and it can be delivered.”

Cllr Moulton said there had been a dispute over the bus lane plans in the Millbrook ward local election campaign in recent months.

He said Labour had claimed the Conservatives were lying when his party had suggested the council administration was going to put bus lanes in Millbrook Road.

“You have just confirmed that you do [have plans for bus lanes],” Cllr Moulton said. “Do you have anything you wish to say to them [residents]?”

Cllr Keogh said his understanding was that there was a difference of opinion about the length of bus lanes being proposed.

The cabinet member said: “We could get into an argument about who said what, when and why, but the position we are in now is that let’s make sure together we can actually focus on delivering a bus service that the residents of this city want, that is city region based and does all the things that our bus service improvement plan wants.

“That is reliability, that is frequency, that is affordability and that is accessibility.

“If we can deliver on that, then that will be good for the residents of this city.”

Residents 'very concerned'

Conservative group deputy leader Cllr Jeremy Moulton said: “Local people are very concerned as they fear it will create a lot of congestion. 

“The council has a track record of getting it wrong with traffic planning in the area, a good example being their underestimate of the traffic linked to CostCo and the petrol station there. 

“In particular residents are concerned about the impact of a bus lane leading onto Millbrook Roundabout.”

Transport boss Cllr Eamonn Keogh defended the plans at a recent meeting saying he wants to boost frequency, affordability and accessibility.