Park and ride future causing headaches

IPSWICH'S park and ride network could give bureaucrats nightmares as they prepare to split county and borough functions in the run-up to unitary status.

IPSWICH'S park and ride network could give bureaucrats nightmares as they prepare to split county and borough functions in the run-up to unitary status.

At present the park and ride service is sponsored and subsidised by Suffolk County Council which awards contracts for the routes from Martlesham, Copdock, and Bury Road.

However the main beneficiary of the service is seen as Ipswich because it keeps thousands of cars out of the town.

Two of the parking sites are outside the borough boundary and would normally be expected to be subsidised by the county - but the Bury Road park is inside Ipswich so that service may have to be separated from the other two.

An added complication is that the single park and ride contract - currently held by Ipswich Buses - is due to be re-let at the end of October.

It is understood the existing contract will be extended for a further six months until the end of April next year - but so far no one has officially told Ipswich Buses about that change.

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Ipswich council transport spokesman Paul West - who is also chairman of the bus company - said he could not comment on the situation with the park and ride contracts because it was still very early days.

“This is just one of a number of issues we will be talking to the county about over the next 18 months. I am confident it will all be sorted out by May 2009,” he said.

And a spokesman for the county also said that the future management of the park and ride network would be a matter for discussion in future months.

However one possibility is that a joint board could be set up of borough and county councillors to manage the service, with each authority contributing equally to subsidise the service.

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