Charitable trust to run Norwich’s park and ride among council’s cash saving ideas

PUBLISHED: 07:37 19 October 2012

Park and Ride buses at Norwich Bus Station.; photo by Adrian Judd

Park and Ride buses at Norwich Bus Station.; photo by Adrian Judd

Archant Norfolk 2011

A charitable trust to run Norwich’s park and ride service is among ideas being considered to cut council costs.

Norfolk County Council wants to end its subsidy to the service, which stood at £2.2m a year in 2010.

The authority’s aim is for income almost entirely from bus fares to cover all the costs for the six park and ride sites and the buses.

And ideas being explored include creating a trust to run the service and asking businesses to invest in the service.

A similar plan to transfer the day-to-day running of Norfolk’s 10-council run attractions to a charitable trust, in a bid to save money and avoid cuts, was unanimously rejected last January.

The £4m-a-year park and ride service will receive a £370,000 subsidy in 2012/13 from the county council. Officials hope this spending will be gone within the next 12 to 18 months.

Graham Plant, county council cabinet member for transportation, said: “As far as making it self-sufficient, it’s a no-brainer really.

“The bit left is business rates on them all and what I am trying to do is look at several routes now to try and get rid of that charge.

“There are several ways to try to do it. We could turn it into a trust as it’s a service for the people of Norfolk and Norwich.”

Mr Plant said as businesses in the city benefited from the service, it might be possible to ask them to invest in park and ride on a “sustainable basis”. He said: “It seems churlish to say there’s no other way to do it apart from using ratepayers’ money.”

Concerns were raised by councillors at Wednesday night’s Norwich City Council cabinet meeting about what impact making park and ride self-funding will have on the “vibrancy of the city”.

The Green Party expressed a desire for more funding for the service, while Labour’s Bert Bremner, pictured, city council cabinet member for transportation, said there could be “real problems” for employment and the success of the city if it was not looked after.

Mr Plant and Mr Bremner both said talks needed to take place to create a strategy on car parking prices – with the city council, county council and private companies all competing for customers to use sites both in and out of Norwich.

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