Agenda item

Park & Ride Service - Call-In


The Director of Regeneration and Place introduced the report and referenced the original report and subsequent decision made following its presentation to the Strategic planning and Infrastructure (SPI) Committee on 7 December 2021. Officers had recommended that the initial subsidy requested be agreed, however an increased amount had been requested by the Operator prior to the issue’s consideration which could not be met through Covid-19 relief monies in their entirety. 


The Operator had formally served notice to the Council that the Park and Ride Service would end on 19 February 2022, due to the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the service’s viability which was further affected by the recent Omicron variant of Coronavirus. The urgent update, which contained further information on the usage and the uncertainty of the financial support required by the Operator, was referenced.


Councillor Cooper addressed the Committee as the Chairman of the SPI Committee and outlined the contributing factors to the original decision made, which was that no further subsidy be provided.


The Councillors that had signed the call-in referral form were invited to address the Committee and outlined the content of the petition. 


Several Members reiterated the benefit of the service to all residents and that an equality impact assessment had not yet been conducted. It was felt that further public consultation should have taken place before the operator’s request for further financial support was initially considered by the SPI Committee. As the Government’s guidance to ‘Work from Home’ had been withdrawn as part of the continued recovery from Covid-19, it was possible that the number of service users would increase.


There were concerns expressed that the service’s end would negatively impact air quality, the achievement of the Council’s carbon neutrality target, congestion and the ongoing Local Plan Review.


In response to questions, the Director of Regeneration and Place reiterated that formal notice was served to the Council and that no other potential operators had been contacted. The Chief Executive confirmed that the Council’s staff were able to use the service for work purposes, but that alternative methods to assist staff no longer able to use the facility, would be considered in the future if required. The Council’s commitment to carbon reduction was emphasised.


During the debate, it was felt that individuals were unlikely to return to the office full-time due to the benefits of home working, which would prevent the service from recovering fully. Given the consistent decline in service users alongside the likelihood that the operator required additional medium-to-long term financial support, the service was felt to be nonviable. The Committee were of the view that in the circumstances the service’s continued provision would not deliver value for money for local residents and taxpayers across the borough.  


The importance of promoting adequate provision of local commercial bus services was referenced. Officers were encouraged to consider alternative options for the park and ride sites, as included within the decision made by the SPI Committee.


RESOLVED: That the original Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee decision be endorsed.


Note: Councillor Parfitt-Reid left the meeting between 7.33 p.m. to 7.36 p.m.





Supporting documents: