TRANSPORT minister Norman Baker was in Southampton today to see for himself ambitious plans to keep the city moving.

He was invited by city bosses to see how £2.5million Government money had been spent on the bus network as well as Southampton Central Station and the surrounding area.

Mr Baker said: “I am here today because I have been able to allocate Southampton some funds which are designed to encourage sustainable transport locally and demonstrate how relatively small sums of money can be used productively.”

This includes the new Brompton Dock facility for folding bicycle hire at Southampton Central station and a new real time information system for the city's bus stops.

Mr Baker said: “We are determined to invest carefully to help economic growth and cut carbon and that is why we are allocating funds.”

The minister also hopped on a bus to see for himself the WiFi connectivity on the city's buses, before meeting apprentices refurbishing buses and jobseekers benefiting from free bus passes to help them to interviews.

City leader Richard Williams said it was also important to invite Mr Baker to given him a chance to see Southampton's transport regeneration plans in person as the city vies with other local authorities for funding.

He said: “By coming today he has seen how Government money has affected change and how we can deliver. We wanted to be advocate for Southampton so we can work with the Government to lead to investment here and show what we could do.”

This included the work that has already revamped the south side but Mr Baker also saw plans to modernise the north entrance.

Under ambitious new plans the front will be transformed with landscaping and seating areas while the rundown Wyndham Place Plaza opposite will be converted into attractive square with potential to stage events.