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Plymouth park-and-ride campaigners slam "catastrophic" charging plan

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

By SOPHIE TAYLOR @sophiesjtaylor

Comments (26)

A CAMPAIGN group set up to fight plans to introduce fees at park-and-ride car parks has said the move could be “catastrophic”.

Leigh Rapson, a city centre businessman, set up a Facebook group called ‘No To Charges At Plymouth Park and Ride’ yesterday morning.

The group was set up following The Herald’s story which revealed that Plymouth City Council’s scrutiny panel has agreed to recommend that parking charges should be introduced at all three park and ride sites in the city.

And in just a few hours the group had already attracted over 70 members.

Mr Rapson said: “I set up this group following what could be yet another catastrophic decision by Plymouth City Council.

“If the council decides to introduce parking charges at these sites it will increase gridlock on an already strained traffic infrastructure, as well as affecting local businesses. It will put people off coming into the city centre.

“The group is a pressure group. Plymouth City Council need to know how people feel. The response to the group has been really good so far, with over 70 members already.

“It’s time to make a stand and say ‘no more’. It’s the constant misinformation which is getting people frustrated. The council say they won’t do it and then fly in the face of that and do it anyway.

“We want to make our voices heard so the council considers us when they make their decision on the issue.”

The park and ride car parks – at Milehouse, the George and Coypool – are free at present, with motorists paying to use the park and ride buses.

Under the proposals motorists could be asked to pay for parking at the sites.

The scrutiny panel has looked at ways in which a single charge could be used to cover parking and bus fares.

Cllr Ian Bowyer, Conservative group leader on the council, said he was “astonished” at what he described as a U-turn.

“In October, 2013, having read a confusing consultation notice posted in the George park and ride car park, I asked the council to confirm whether it was their intention to introduce a £1 an hour charge at Milehouse, George and Coypool,” he said.

“Their response was to say there were no proposals to charge for parking at the George park and ride site.”

He said he was told that the notice was purely for the enforcement of parking in disabled bays without a valid blue badge and vehicles parking outside of the marked bays.

“This is fast becoming a shambles as the council in one breath says no charges are planned and then seems to say the opposite within weeks,” Cllr Bowyer said.

“We don’t need knee jerk reactions but sensible policies which have public support.

“If the council does not know how, can residents hope to understand and meaningfully respond to consultation?

“Local residents are already incensed by proposed council parking charge hikes in controlled parking zones. This adds insult to injury.”

He urged the council to re-run its consultation exercise “as clearly the goal posts have been moved”.

Cllr Bowyer said there was a wider principle at stake over what is a fair charge.

“Here we see a Labour run council complaining about a cost of living crisis whilst actually contributing to the problem themselves, not forgetting this year’s council tax hike of 2per cent and the likelihood of a further hike early next year.”

He said Conservative councillors opposed further increases in parking charges and council tax.

“We urge the city council to come clean and be more upfront with local people as to spending plans, even if this means facing up to tough, controversial decisions.”

A spokesperson for Plymouth City Council said: “The council has not made any decisions to introduce charges at Plymouth’s park and ride sites or change the way these services are currently run.

“One of the council’s scrutiny panels has been reviewing the operation of the three park and ride sites to see if there are ways the service can be improved and costs reduced (operating these sites currently costs the taxpayer around £130,000 a year).

“The panel benchmarked Plymouth’s service against those run by 26 different local authorities around the country and considered evidence from a range of witnesses including local bus companies, the Plymouth Life Centre, Derriford Hospital and passenger representative body Travel Watch South West.

“Following a number of meetings, the panel has discussed the following recommendations for the council, which are to investigate the feasibility of charging for parking at the park and ride sites to help cover the costs of their maintenance; renegotiate park and ride ‘departure charges’ (charges made to the operator for using the park and ride sites); investigate the feasibility of a new park and ride service between Milehouse and Derriford Hospital; explore the potential for extending operating hours to help accommodate late night shopping in the city centre and evening visiting times at Derriford Hospital; improve the provision of information at the park and ride sites detailing departure and arrival times.

“Cabinet members will now need to carefully consider these recommendations and decide whether any of them will be implemented.

“The public notices that were put up at the park and ride sites a couple of months ago were advertising the proposed changes to off street parking that have just been out for consultation. These proposals do not include charging at the park and ride sites.

“The notices were put up to let people know we are planning to add the three park and ride sites to the city’s Off Street Parking Order. This aims to bring all of our car parks under one order and help reduce unsafe and inconsiderate parking at the park and ride sites.”

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  • moonshine44  |  December 05 2013, 8:54PM

    Incredibly, every posting on this subject ridicules the proposal. The inevitable results would be; -End of the park & ride scheme within 12 months -Friction with owners of the Life Centre car park which would be abused by "pirate" Park & Ride users. -Increased traffic congestion in Plymouth -Fewer shoppers and tourists going into Plymouth town centre with more retailers / restaurants etc seeing income reduce / going into liquidation. - Greater incentive to save parking / bus fares in Plymouth and commute to Exeter. Free car parking, superb park and ride facility, far superior retail centre.

    Rate   3
  • jannerdave  |  December 05 2013, 6:22PM

    So the tax payer pays 130,000 pounds to maintain the park and ride, no more than a few pounds per tax payer,how much would parking fees bring in,far too much I would think. Also the tax payer is paying for the maintenance of all the Bus Lanes of which most never allowed to use. JannerDave

    Rate   2
  • jannerdave  |  December 05 2013, 6:12PM

    So the tax payer pays 130,000 pounds for the upkeep of the park and ride,no more than a few pounds for each tax payer,how much would parking charges bring in,far too much I think.Also the tax payer pays for all the Bus Lanes, and most never have the use of them JannerDave

    Rate 0
  • GAWker  |  December 05 2013, 5:39PM

    JETHROQUEUE may have a point. The congestion charge zone would be bounded by Laira Bridge, Marsh Mills, The George Hotel, Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry?

    Rate   1
  • Halfmoon  |  December 05 2013, 10:52AM

    A comment on bus fares in general - It's already cheaper to park in town that get a bus - I paid £3.60 yesterday to park in the Theatre Royal car park for 3 hours - compared to a £3.80 return bus fare (£7.60 for both me and my husband) - no comparison really.

    Rate   4
  • DJANGO6421  |  December 05 2013, 10:41AM

    Just keep on penalising the motorist, great, milk the perpetual cash cow dry.

    Rate   5
  • hstmtu4000  |  December 05 2013, 5:10AM

    Looks like yet another spectacular own goal by Plymouth to me in the local economic derby match with Exeter. No wonder the big retailors regard Exeter as their key retail target now in Devon now with its affluent, well connected catchment area which now effectively extends to the whole of Devjon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset thanks to its superb road and rail links and a forward-thinking Devon County Council. If I were a younger man Exeter and its travel to work area would definitely appear to be a far better bet than Plymouth to build a life in Devon. Plymouth always seems to be taking one step forward and two steps back in comparison. I doubt if Plymouth will ever achieve the success and feel good factor of Exeter thanks to its appalling combination of historically poor transport infrastructure on one hand and parochial infighting locally and political indifference nationally on the other.

    Rate   7
  • Hearald  |  December 05 2013, 1:01AM

    get rid of bus lanes, cycle lanes, re-widen the roads to their original size, put the pedestrian underpass back, keep the car parks in good condition, who would need park & ride

    Rate   12
  • John_Ply  |  December 04 2013, 10:19PM

    Now that I have had time to digest the implications of these charges (mentioned in a previous comment), the more, 'Barmy', this idea becomes. At the present time the public is being informed that, 'Operating these sites currently costs the taxpayer around £130,000 a year'. If one logically concludes that, this is the cost without employing extra staff then, surely, this cost will rise, when staff are employed for patrols to enforce this charge and possibly sell tickets etc. for seven days a week. Combining this with their overheads, administration and management, within the City Council offices, could the new cost, actually exceed more than twice the existing operating cost of £130,000? By the laws of, supply and demand, this proposal is bound to force car-parking charges, to rise in the City Centre, which was possibly unforeseen. With other outlets such as, 'Out of Town', shopping centres, the council should think carefully, at what point does the charge become to great, choking off the demand and people shopping elsewhere? The City Centre is already on it's knees and I wonder, if this could be the final blow, which could eventually kill it. £130,000 now, but at what cost in the future?

    Rate   11
  • effthesystem  |  December 04 2013, 10:18PM

    with zero hour contracts,and rubbish wages surely this is another of the final few nails being put into the coffin for anyone trying to look for work to better themselves, if you work you pay to exist now, there are no luxuries anymore for those on basic salaries, electric,gas,fuel,the general cost of living is just beyond most people,especially with those pathetic zero hour contracts, they should be used for the waste of time MPs as most cream the expenses and dont do what they have been voted in for. its come to a point where these decision makers are literally taking food from your mouths, all while they give themselves massive pay rises, surely people in general cannot continue to be sheep for the blood sucking leaches in power much longer, it seems government flooded the UK with workers from abroad to cause a struggle for work and overload our benefits/nhs system to bring down wages,stop benefits and privatise the nhs so wages will be lower,there will be nowhere to turn if your out of work and no where to go for treatment for you or your family if your unfortunate enough to be out of work and cannot afford insurance, your only choice will be to work a low paid job with these leaches in power sucking you dry before you get in the door after pay day with yet another attack on its own people. greed and corrupt.

    Rate   7