Park and ride plans attacked
AN MP has called for an official inquiry into plans to operate a new park and ride scheme from a village outside Colchester.Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, has backed up concerns raised by locals who live in Eight Ash Green, the proposed new site of the operation, just to the west of Colchester near the A12.
AN MP has called for an official inquiry into plans to operate a new park and ride scheme from a village outside Colchester.
Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, has backed up concerns raised by locals who live in Eight Ash Green, the proposed new site of the operation, just to the west of Colchester near the A12.
The original location, in Stanway, was set to be on the other side of the busy road, away from the village, which would have had less of an impact on local traffic.
Mr Jenkin said the location had been changed unexpectedly and without proper consultation, and said he was concerned that the matter needed to be looked into.
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He said: “No-one objects to a park and ride for Colchester in principle.
“However the change to the planned location, from Stanway to Eight Ash Green, has come as a shock.
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“This was not expected or anticipated in any published plans, so there should be a full inquiry.”
The opposition to the plans has prompted the creation of the Eight Ash Green Action Group, an organisation made up of villagers opposed to the plan who have written to the Government Office of the East of England to ask that the application be “called in” for a public inquiry.
Conservative Mr Jenkin added: “Serious questions have been raised about the suitability of the site itself, and the way in which the application has been handled.
“No meaningful traffic survey has been carried out for example.”
In June, it was announced to residents that the site was being switched from Stanway, as outlined in the council's original Park and Ride proposals, to Eight Ash Green.
Residents were given the opportunity to examine the plans after notices were posted through their doors.
The move prompted outcry and borough councillor Dennis Willetts said yesterday he was concerned.
Mr Willetts said: “The process seems extremely strange to the residents. We've looked at other existing park and ride sites and are yet to find any so close to residential areas.”
Members of Colchester Borough Council's strategic overview and scrutiny panel raised issues with the application.
Richard Bourne, a Labour borough councillor and also Essex County Councillor, said the matter had then been referred to the cabinet by the strategic overview and scrutiny panel, and was concerned with the way the decision to switch locations had been taken.
He added: “The problems are to do with the decision making process. The planning committee have been looking at a large number of park and ride sites both west and east of Colchester.
“However we have been left to question how robust the process has been.”
In response to the concerns Essex County Council's cabinet member for transport, Rodney Bass, said that he could not comment on the specific situation due to his involvement with the application, but that the suitability of all park and ride schemes had been examined.
He added: “Not only do we examine the viability of the park site, but we examine the suitability of all routes the busses would take.
“Park and ride sites must be located in places which are easily accessible to the main routes to the town.”