Cheap parking could threaten park and ride – transport boss

IPSWICH: The town’s park and ride network may not survive cuts in council spending over the next few years the Evening Star can reveal today.

Bosses at the county council – which subsidises the network based at three parks on the edge of town – fear that the growth of cheap “temporary” car parks in the town centre could threaten the service.

County councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor said: “We may well have to look at the future of park and ride especially with all the car parks opening up on wasteland in Ipswich who don’t charge very much at all.

“This means that the park and ride is not as busy as we would like and that does cost us money – whether we can continue to justify that cost I don’t know.”

The service is currently operated for the council on a five-year contract by First Eastern Counties which is due to operate until October 2013. Ipswich’s first park and ride centre, at Copdock Mill, opened in 1997. It was soon followed by a second route from Bury Road and later the park at Martlesham opened.

The first centre proved very popular, but the other parks never attracted the number of users seen in other centres like Norwich, Cambridge and Oxford.

Over the last few years a number of empty sites in Ipswich have been given temporary planning permission to become car parks before they are redeveloped.

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Despite last year’s closure of the Crown Car Park there are still more car parking spaces in central Ipswich than there were a few years ago.

However, the Ipswich councillor with responsibility for planning and economic development, Richard Atkins, said the borough was keen to support park and ride.

He said: “We have taken enforcement action against some car parks that have been operating long-stay parking policies.

“We only permit short-term parks to operate in the town centre – charging by the hour.

“We are confident there is a future for park and ride as Ipswich becomes more of a destination for shoppers and other visitors.”

n Should park and ride be supported? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk