Colchester: Proposed Park & Ride route misses out town’s hospital

Colchester General Hospital.

Colchester General Hospital. - Credit: Su Anderson

Health chiefs have expressed dismay that Colchester’s proposed Park and Ride scheme will not include a stop at the town’s hospital.

Park & Ride buses will also not be stopping here, at Colchester bus station in Osborne Street.

Park & Ride buses will also not be stopping here, at Colchester bus station in Osborne Street. - Credit: Su Anderson

A report from Essex County Council (ECC) which is behind the project has set out where buses will stop around the town.

Despite the document stating the scheme will provide “a rapid transit corridor for buses from the outskirts of Colchester to the town centre via key destinations including Colchester Hospital” the health facility is not listed in the planned pick-up and set-down points.

The nearest stop to Colchester General Hospital would be at North Station, a one-mile walk away. Essex County Hospital is set to close by the time Park and Ride opens, with all services transferred to the main Turner Road site.

Buses, which would run every ten minutes at peak times and every 15 minutes the rest of the day and Saturdays, would also stop at the High Street, Queen Street and Head Street.

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A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust is disappointed that no provision has been made for a stop near to Colchester General Hospital.

“We made representations about this to Essex County Council and will press the authority to reconsider its view.

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“We are convinced that a stop near to the hospital would be welcomed by the patients, visitors and staff who come here from all over north east Essex.”

Rodney Bass, county councillor for highways and transportation, said: “I have not received any representations from the Colchester Hospital authorities for such a stop but the purpose of the Park & Ride is to promote Colchester as an employment and shopping centre by facilitating access to the town centre and to reduce congestion to and from the town centre.

“I am happy to consider carefully any representations which may be made for a stop at the hospital. I would not, however, want to provide a substitute car park for the hospital without appropriate reimbursement and sufficient car parking capacity from the trust, bearing in mind that the car park at the Park and Ride terminus will be free.”

ECC is set to appoint a contractor to run the service after putting the scheme out to tender.

The authority has said there will be five buses used, and has stipulated new vehicles must be used when the scheme is introduced.

Park and Ride is set to begin at the end of March 2015 and the winning contractor will run the service for five years, with an option to extend it by a further two years.

The pricing structure has not yet been set, but users could park for free then pay to travel by bus into town.

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