Resort could get park and ride scheme

By Sarah ChambersA PARK and ride scheme could be on the cards for a popular seaside town that faces chronic parking and traffic problems during the holidays.

By Sarah Chambers

A PARK and ride scheme could be on the cards for a popular seaside town that faces chronic parking and traffic problems during the holidays.

Southwold town councillors and businesses are keen on the idea in principle – although they are aware of potential pitfalls.

St Felix and St George's School in neighbouring Reydon mooted the idea a couple of months ago of running its own scheme during the summer holidays, but the idea of some kind of park and ride initiative for the town had been under discussion independently from the school's proposals.

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A traffic management working party for the town – which includes representatives from the town, district and county council as well as the business community – has been talking about the idea, along with other proposals for residential parking.

Peter Webb, a town councillor and member of the working group, said: "We would be very supportive of any scheme which would try to relieve traffic in Southwold on high days and holidays, and park and ride is one of them.

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"As far as Southwold is concerned, we are very receptive to the idea of a park and ride scheme, as long as it relieves traffic in Southwold."

He pointed to other similar schemes which were working in seaside resorts in Devon and suggested it would be possible to have a scheme running for the town in two or three years' time.

"It's always possible. It's a huge investment in park and ride in buses and in the parking area and all the rest of it – you can't just park on a field," said Mr Webb.

He pointed out on summer bank holidays, the count of cars coming over the bridge into town was some 9,000 a day.

"Anything that would tend to cut down the numbers entering Southwold on high days and holidays is to be promoted and applauded," added Mr Webb.

Stephan Cornell, chairman of Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, described the summertime traffic in the town as "a nightmare".

"We would do anything to support it because it really is a problem. We would support anything that makes Southwold more accessible in terms of shopping," he added.

But Mr Cornell was concerned visitors might ignore the scheme and still try to drive into the town to find parking spaces.

He felt there also needed to be regular and dependable shuttle services to and from the parking area.

"I know that the council has looked at so many different schemes and we still don't go anywhere forward on it because there is always a reason it can't be done. This is something that should be carried forward I believe, but we'll see," said Mr Cornell.

"I think it's something that should be experimented with to see what the take-up would be I think it's something that we, the council and whatever bus operator that was to try it would have to work very, very closely together to make sure it does work."

County councillor John Goldsmith, who chairs the traffic management working group, said it was "pie in the sky" unless a suitable site was found for the parking.

But Mr Goldsmith said he would suggest the idea of approaching landowners at the group's next meeting on July 24.

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