New hope of saving Ipswich park and ride service

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham.

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Hopes are rising that the park and ride service will be saved after talks between Suffolk County Council and the Ipswich Vision board.

Its future had been thrown into question because the county felt it could no longer continue to spend £700,000 a year supporting the service based at Martlesham Heath and London Road.

The council’s budget meeting was told yesterday that talks about the future of the service had been going well and the partners were hopeful that a new financing deal could be struck to allow the service to continue while cutting the cost to taxpayers.

Cabinet member Tony Goldson said: “Let me assure you that no decision has been taken to close the two Ipswich Park and Ride sites.

“We think it is an important service for the people of Ipswich and wider Suffolk, but the challenge we have laid out is how to keep it operating, but with a much reduced subsidy from the taxpayer.

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“I’m delighted to be able to report that our partners are working with us and have risen to this challenge. Local operator Ipswich Buses, the Chamber of Commerce, Ipswich Hospital and Ipswich Central are all working with us to develop a new approach.

“There is a collective confidence that between us we can keep it operating, and I would encourage everyone to continue to use it.”

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Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter agreed that there were increasing hopes that the Park and Ride would be saved.

He said: “The partners within the Ipswich Vision are working to try to help the county council to find a way of continuing to support the park and ride because we see it as very important to the future of the town centre.

“We are all pleased that we do seem to be moving to a position where the county will be able to continue to support the park and ride.”

The exchange over park and ride came during the council’s debate on next year’s budget.

The Conservative administration was able to muster a near full turnout and defeated the Labour amendment that would have seen an extra £14m taken from reserves to protect some departments, including the fire service, that are threatened with further cuts.

The amendment was defeated by 36 votes to 32, and the budget itself was passed by 36 votes to 27.

Before the meeting there had been a lobby of firefighters and others protesting about proposed spending cuts – the county is planning to save £34.4m next year – as councillors arrived at Endeavour House.

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