Anger at council workers parking subsidy
SUFFOLK County Council is spending more than £1,500 every week on parking subsidies for its employees, the EADT can reveal. As part of the authority's “green travel plan”, workers using the three park and ride sites around Ipswich are given about £1.
SUFFOLK County Council is spending more than £1,500 every week on parking subsidies for its employees, the EADT can reveal.
As part of the authority's “green travel plan”, workers using the three park and ride sites around Ipswich are given about £1.50 towards the daily cost. Currently, around 210 staff a day take up the offer.
Last night, the authority defended the £86,000-a-year incentive scheme and said it was set up to encourage staff to adopt a “greener” way of travelling.
Bosses argued it was funded through parking fees paid by workers who use council car parks near to its Endeavour House base in Ipswich
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But Corin Taylor, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, questioned why council employees should be offered reduced tariffs while other workers pay premium rates.
He said: “What the council ought to be doing is charging its employees the proper rates and using the money to cut council taxes.”
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He said people using public car parks in nearby Portman Road pay £4.20 for more than three hours, while council workers using spaces reserved for them off Russell Road are already paying less - £3 a day.
Mr Taylor said: “Not only is Suffolk County Council subsidising its employees to park cheaper than everyone else, they are also using council funds to subsidise the park and ride charges for their staff.”
And Reg Hartles, of campaign group Protest Against Council Tax Suffolk, said: “Spending like this makes the general public and council tax payers wonder what's going on.
“Any money that could be saved should be used to keep council tax lower.”
The council generates just under £500,000 a year from charging its employees £3 a day to park in the 600-plus spaces near to its Russell Road headquarters.
If the number of staff taking advantage of the park and ride offer does not change, the initiative will continue to account for nearly £86,000 of this total in a year.
But the figure could rise if more staff are convinced to use the park and ride sites in Bury Road, Ipswich, London Road, Ipswich and Martlesham.
As well as being put towards the park and ride subsidies, the car parking cash is also used for other “green travel initiatives”, including a shuttle bus service run around Ipswich.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “We encourage the use of public transport to staff as we want to practice what we preach. We have a Green Travel Plan which has been in place for some years and has proven to be a success.
“Since moving to Endeavour House more people car share, use public transport and cycle to work."
She stressed money for the park and ride subsidies is not taken from the public purse and instead drawn from the car parking revenue.
Around 7,300 tickets have been sold from the London Road park and ride in the past year, compared to 4,600 at Martlesham and 4,300 at Bury Road.
Return tickets cost £3 at London Road and Bury Road and £3.50 at Martlesham. About 70 council staff a day use each site at discounted rates of either £1.50 or £1.75.