Two cheers for park and ride

AT LAST Ipswich's park and ride network is starting to look logical with the opening of the third centre at Martlesham.But while I have no doubts that it will be well used – and I think it is in the right place – I am worried that it will prove expensive for council tax payers.

AT LAST Ipswich's park and ride network is starting to look logical with the opening of the third centre at Martlesham.

But while I have no doubts that it will be well used – and I think it is in the right place – I am worried that it will prove expensive for council tax payers.

Unlike the other two park and ride schemes, the Martlesham centre is not linked to a new retail park providing income to help with the subsidy.

I still have difficulty in getting my head around the concept that says it's fine to subsidise park and ride services but councils cannot subsidise normal bus routes.


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Let's face it, park and ride is never going to make a profit. If an economic charge was levied, no one would use it – they'd drive straight to the town centre car parks.

The council justifies its subsidy on the grounds of easing congestion in Ipswich, but when you see largely empty purple buses rushing around the town centre, it's difficult for us mere mortals to understand just how much congestion is being prevented.

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And what about those of us who live in Ipswich? What is being done to get us to leave our cars at home?

Bus fares are so steep that if a family wants to come into the town, in most cases it is cheaper to drive and pay parking charges than all go on the bus.

And anyway most buses in Ipswich are full to bursting at peak times.

There's no point in trying to expand services by buying new buses – the big shortage is of drivers, not their vehicles.

Another factor that everyone needs to consider is that Ipswich doesn't have the congestion problems suffered by some other towns and cities.

I know things can be bad at rush hours, but it is nowhere near as difficult driving into Ipswich as it is trying to get into Norwich or Cambridge to give just two local examples.

There will, however, be those who do like park and ride – especially those who aren't confident about driving into the town centre.

But I'm not sure it's really a subject for great rejoicing – park and ride is something that deserves just two cheers!

SOUTH Suffolk MP Tim Yeo looks like one of the big winners in the fallout from the Tory leadership contest.

It all seems like a million miles away from his troubled times a decade ago when his private life was making all the headlines.

Since those dark days he's re-established himself as a serious – and approachable – politician and his position at the Tory top table came as no surprise to anyone.

During his first ten years in parliament after winning his seat in 1983, Mr Yeo was busy climbing the ministerial pole in junior roles.

He sometimes seemed more interested in his work in London than in the constituency – and could frankly come across as somewhat pompous.

Since his personal hiatus that pomposity has been well and truly pricked. Now he's much more relaxed whether talking about planning problems in Shotley or the government's handling of Foot and Mouth disease.

He's now one of the easiest politicians to talk to – and always seems to say the right thing.

It was significant that he was even talked about as a possible leadership contender before Michael Howard emerged as the only candidate.

Whether or not he ever serves in government again will be up to the voters – but there's no doubt that Mr Yeo is right at the heart of the Conservative machine these days.

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