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Keeping park and ride is 'impossible' due to cuts, says council leader
THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has insisted keeping park and rides going became "impossible" - and believes the public don't care about them enough.
Councillor Adrian Hardman told your Worcester News he decided against using more taxpayers' cash to keep the loss-making Perdiswell and Sixways sites in operation after looking at the staggering decline in usage.
He also said the total annual cost of running them, which hit £296,870 last year, became harder to justify at a time when around £100 million needs to be saved by 2018.
As your Worcester News revealed yesterday, the council has approved £1.6 million of cuts to public transport spending from September.
As part of the plan both of the park and rides will close, which had led to fierce criticism.
Cllr Hardman said: "For a long time we have tried to deliver park and ride services for Worcester, indeed at one time it was a keystone policy.
"But it's been an impossible thing to deliver and the figures show that.
"We put an enormous amount of time and effort into the consultation, and from that we have got clear views from the public as to what they see as being most important.
"We've also paid a great deal of attention to the characteristics of the people likely to be affected by this and are confident we have passed all our equality duties."
He has also revealed that the Perdiswell park and ride land is leased from Worcester City Council at a cost of £40,000 and a similar arrangement exists for the Sixways facility, which is leased from Worcester Warriors.
He said the council "hasn't got the money" to justify promoting the sites more in light of the usage at Perdiswell, which peaked at 450,000 yearly customers in 2008 but fell to 274,935 last year.
His stance came as he faced more criticism from bus users yesterday, who contacted your Worcester News.
Peter Jenkins, 61, of Main Road, Hallow, said: "The Perdiswell park and ride is brilliant - it makes you wonder why they are getting rid of it.
"Does any public transport ever become profitable? Surely some services will always require a subsidy."
Of the 97 bus routes under threat 13 are being scrapped entirely, 17 will stay the same, at least five are upping fares and 52 will provide 'similar' timetables, with a handful improved and the rest slightly less frequent.