Parents issue park and ride plea
PARENTS are campaigning for under-used park and ride buses to be diverted to their villages to pick up children and take them to a nearby school.The new buses operating from the Martlesham park and ride site often have only a handful of passengers as they go in and out of Ipswich because the service is proving to be less popular than the county council had hoped.
By Richard Smith
PARENTS are campaigning for under-used park and ride buses to be diverted to their villages to pick up children and take them to a nearby school.
The new buses operating from the Martlesham park and ride site often have only a handful of passengers as they go in and out of Ipswich because the service is proving to be less popular than the county council had hoped. The council wanted 340 cars a day to use the site, but the average is 154.
Now families living in Little and Great Bealings, and Playford, want to use the buses for their children to go to Kesgrave High School.
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Children living more than three miles away from a school qualify for free transport – but from September there will be 22 children from the three villages who live within the three-mile boundary.
Their parents claim it is too dangerous for them to cycle due to the number of motorists ''rat running'' through the villages to avoid the new traffic lights at the park and ride roundabout.
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Toni Cornish, of Holly Lane, Little Bealings, said: ''We are not asking for free transport, we just want a service that we can use and not put our children at risk. One alternative is to hire a minibus to take 15 children but this will cost £30 for one trip.
''We would like to divert one of the park and ride buses to go round the villages to pick up in the morning and drop off in the afternoon. I use the park and ride myself because of the rising car park costs and I am in agreement with it.
''But if it is not being used to its full capacity, why can the council not divert just one bus?''
She has a daughter, Lily, seven, at Bealings primary school and another daughter, Jessica, 11, who is leaving Bealings to start at Kesgrave in September.
Mrs Cornish said she would consider driving her eldest daughter to her cousin's home in Viking Heights, Martlesham, and then they could take the cycle paths to Kesgrave while Mrs Cornish drove her youngest daughter to the primary school.
Mrs Cornish said six cars would be needed if all the children in Holly Lane were taken by private transport to the high school.
Julian Swainson, the county council's portfolio holder for transport, said: ''It is an interesting suggestion and I would welcome them making a formal representation to me so I can look at the practicalities.
''If we used a service that fitted in with park and ride that could be a good idea but it would have to be something that did not affect journey times for people using park and ride, because part of the attraction is the direct and quick route into Ipswich.
''There are some problems about what we are allowed to do with various budgets and so at the moment it is quite difficult to cross subsidise one kind of transport with another.''