I'M REALLY sorry that what could have been a good and productive discussion on transport in Southampton has been turned into a naked piece of political points scoring by Royston Smith in his recent letter to the Echo.

Indeed he sets out the purpose of the points scoring, which is to win some votes for the Conservatives in the next council elections.

The debate about how we get around in cities, how there should be room in it for all modes of transport, and how we can make them work better with cleaner air and lower carbon emissions is surely much bigger than this, and is not served by wild predictions about Southampton being gridlocked and closing down as a result of the introduction of some temporary cycle lanes, which are up for future discussion anyway within the context of a decent debate about the best low carbon transport options for the city, and indeed all cities in the future.

The surprise in all this is that it is the Government that Royston supports that issued guidance to Local Authorities to do just that – utilise what we are beginning to see in changes in transport modes during the pandemic to put in improvements to city travel access, particularly for cyclists, and consult and amend as the process proceeds.

My continuing disappointment – and there is a pattern emerging in this – is that every time anyone actually tries to do something that makes progress with lower carbon emissions and making our cities and towns better places to live in Royston opposes it, whilst claiming that he really is on board with a low carbon future, which he seems to think can be sorted out by putting some electric scooters on our roads.

It is a far wider debate and too important to be besmirched in petty politics.

My postbag, as it happens, has indeed included some who do not like the new temporary cycle lanes – but also many who see the cycle lanes as part of the bigger picture and want to see the city go further in planning connected lanes and a better overall transport plan which integrates reasonable access for cars to the city, good public transport links and safe access and transit for cyclists and pedestrians.

I think that is the way to go, and I hope after Royston's rant we can get back on track discussing this for the good of all our citizens in the city.

Alan Whitehead

MP for Southampton Test