Bury park-and-ride plan scrapped

A NEW park and ride system for one of Suffolk's fastest growing towns has been ruled out in the “foreseeable future” because it would cost council taxpayers �300,000 a year, it emerged last night.

Laurence Cawley

A NEW park and ride system for one of Suffolk's fastest growing towns has been ruled out in the “foreseeable future” because it would cost council taxpayers �300,000 a year, it emerged last night.

Consultants hired by Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council claim Bury St Edmunds has enough parking spaces and not enough congestion to justify the costs of a park and ride scheme.

Instead they have urged planners and highways chiefs to spend money on better public transport - including real time bus information - to minimise congestion.


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But Bury MP David Ruffley launched a scathing attack on the consultants' findings, claiming they “had missed the point” by not including the thousands of new homes earmarked for the town in the lead up to 2021 and the impact the new �100million arc shopping centre would have on visitor numbers.

“We are a growing and vibrant town and want a good quality of life in Bury,” said Mr Ruffley. “We don't want people groaning as they approach Bury.

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“I am amazed they had no figures about the extra journeys likely to be caused by arc or the extra people living around the town.”

But Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for transport, said there was just one day last year when all the car parks were full and congestion in the town - except for a brief rush hour period - was generally lower than in major towns.

Parking in Bury, he said, was also relatively cheap, which meant if people were able to get a cheap parking space in the town centre he doubted they would break up their journey to use a short-distance park and ride scheme.

The best place for a park and ride scheme - as identified by Mouchel, the consultants employed by the borough and county council - was near the sugar beet factory, close to the existing town centre, Mr McGregor said. The consultants said it could house about 200 cars and would cost �300,000 to run each year.

“The cathedral town of Bury is a jewel in the crown of England, but at the present moment we could not justify this expense. As a general rule of thumb, I can't see there being a regular park and ride in the foreseeable future.”

Terry Clements, the borough council's cabinet member for planning and transportation, said there was “scope” for a smaller scale park and ride scheme on the west of Bury. But, he said, to make that work and to ensure enough people used it, the number of parking spaces in the town centre would have to be cut and the cost of parking increased.

He said he could not see a park and ride scheme being set up in the near future, but he said it was an option in the longer term.

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