Last-ditch bid to scrap Worcester's park and ride closures

2:37pm Thursday 26th June 2014

By Tom Edwards

A LAST-DITCH bid is being launched to save Worcester's two park and rides, it has emerged.

Labour councillors across Worcestershire are teaming up to request two key votes over last week's controversial decision.

A motion has now been published asking Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council to hold a joint investigation into the implications of shutting the Perdiswell and Sixways sites.

The county council's Conservative leadership intends to scrap both in September as part of £1.6 million of public transport cuts.

The loss-making sites have declined in popularity in recent years and last year taxpayers had to fork out £296,870 to keep them going.

A vote will take place at the city council next Wednesday, followed by a separate show of hands at the county council the following day.

It will require the support of a majority of councillors from both authorities for it to be actioned.

Labour politicians say park and ride could be saved if more effort was made to provide the service on a commercial basis, with better advertising and even slightly higher prices.

Councillor Paul Denham, a Labour city and county councillor, said: "The full potential of park and ride is not being realised because the service is not properly advertised.

"The cheapest council car park costs £3.60 to park all day but park and ride is only £2.20 return including parking.

"A weekly park and ride ticket is only £8 - many more visitors to Worcester would use it if they knew this."

Councillor Joy Squires, Worcester's Labour parliamentary candidate, said: "Surveys have repeatedly shown that traffic and congestion are the top concerns of Worcester residents and this will deter both employers and tourists.

"The county council is making a big mistake removing park and ride when it could easily be run on a commercial basis."

The Conservative leadership at County Hall says it hopes to garner enough support from its own group to reject the plea.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We have already been through a scrutiny exercise at the council.

"It went through OSPB (the overview, scrutiny and performance board, the council's main watchdog) and it's been looked at in detail."

The Perdiswell park and ride was used more than 450,000 times in 2008 but last year it reached a record low of 274,935.

The Sixways service, which goes to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, was used 66,214 times last year.

During the public consultation over bus cuts an unprecedented 8,500 responses were handed to the county council.

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