Suffolk kept Ipswich in dark over park and ride plans

Closed Park and Ride on Bury Road Ipswich.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said a proposal to reopen Bury Road park and ride was dropped by the county council. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Officials and councillors in Ipswich were surprised when Suffolk County Council unveiled its "Bus Back Better" bid because many of its proposals had never been discussed before they were published.

Labour leader of the borough David Ellesmere said no one at his council had been told what a "pocket park and ride" proposed by the county for the Nacton Road area was.

And they understood reopening the Bury Road park and ride side would be included in the document - and only found out it had been overlooked when the document was published.

Mr Ellesmere said: "We had been talking to the county about their plans and told them that Ipswich needed a full Park and Ride service from all entrances to the town - we understood they were going to recommend reopening Bury Road and looking for a new site near Nacton Road.

"Then when it was published there was no mention of Bury Road - and they were talking about a 'pocket park and ride' in the Nacton Road area. No one here has a clue what that means!"

Mr Ellesmere said that most of the structures of the Bury Road Park and Ride remained in place - and the Norwich Road corridor remained very busy: "We understood it was included but found it had been dropped and no one seems to know why."

He was also strongly opposed to the proposal that the borough should put up car parking charges to dissuade drivers from driving into the town centre.

Crown Car Park in Ipswich

Ipswich Council is not prepared to increase prices at its car parks in a bid to drive motorists to park and ride. - Credit: Ipswich Council

Mr Ellesmere said: "As a council we will do everything we can to support our businesses in the town centre. Having reasonable car parting is vital to that.

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"All I can say is that for Ipswich it is a good job that the borough runs most of the car parks and not the county.

"Park and ride, and bus services generally, have to offer a very good service to encourage drivers out of their cars. To get motorists out of their cars you have to offer a big carrot - if you try to force them out by putting up car park prices you only succeed in sending them to other towns or cities instead."

As the county passed its Bus Back Better plans cabinet member for transport development Richard Smith said: “An efficient bus network is key to providing a viable alternative to the private car and encouraging people on to public transport.”