Fury at £500,000 park-and-ride overspend

By Graham DinesPolitical EditorTHE Conservatives are demanding a radical rethink of park-and-ride schemes as overspending on the under-construction Martlesham site soars to £500,000.

By Graham Dines

Political Editor

THE Conservatives are demanding a radical rethink of park-and-ride schemes as overspending on the under-construction Martlesham site soars to £500,000.

The Martlesham project is being built to encourage motorists from Woodbridge, Framlingham, Saxmundham and as far north as Lowestoft not to drive into the centre of Ipswich.


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But the location of the site, five miles from the centre of Ipswich, has been criticised for being too remote, with not enough car-free lanes to speed park-and-ride buses into the town.

At next week's meeting of Suffolk County Council, the Conservatives will seek an investigation into the costs of the Martlesham scheme, as well as Ipswich's two other park-and-ride sites at Copdock and Bury Road.

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Joanna Spicer, the Conservatives' transport spokesman, is presenting a motion, which says: “This council notes with concern the increasing costs of Martlesham park-and-ride and proposes that a member group be established to consider revenue and capital costs of all park-and-ride operations in order that it may recommend to this council future policies for park-and-ride in

Suffolk.”

Mrs Spicer said yesterday: “The county council has never had a chance to review how successful the other two park-and-ride sites have been and now we learn that Martlesham is £500,000 overspent.

“Martlesham is five miles from Ipswich town centre, which is too far to encourage motorists to park and use the bus. Where are the special lanes which would allow buses to travel quickly into Ipswich?

“Motorists need an incentive to use park-and-ride - if the special buses are caught up in traffic, car drivers will just ignore the scheme and park in the town centre as usual.”

But Julian Swainson, the council's executive member for transport, said: “We would not be investing the money unless we felt it addressed a need.

“Bus priority measures will be put in place where we can, although there is not too much scope in the narrow, historic town streets.”

He added: “I welcome this debate at council because it gives us the chance to trumpet the success of the two existing park-and-ride sites, which are performing in excess of expectation.”

A county council spokesman said it would ask the Government to bail out the Martlesham project by providing funds to cover the overspend in next year's Local Transport Settlement.

graham.dines@eadt.co.uk

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