Council cashes in on park and ride sites

Renting out hundreds of spaces at park and ride sites around Norwich has helped to net Norfolk County Council more than �230,000 in the past three years, new figures have revealed.

The county council operates six park and ride sites around the city, providing 4,912 spaces, but new statistics show County Hall has been cashing in at times when capacity is low and when the sites are generally closed to the public.

The figures show that one of the chief income streams came from the One Account, with the Pinetrees Road-based company leasing contract parking spaces at the park and ride sites in Sprowston and at the airport - at a cost of more than �78,000 between 2007 and 2010.

The much-publicised problems with parking at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in Colney also benefited the council.

The hospital has spent more than �21,000 over the past three years leasing spaces at the Costessey park and ride site to use for contract parking.

The council is also pocketing �4,500 a year by allowing mobile phone company Hutchinson 3G to have a mast at the Postwick Park and Ride site.

However, county council bosses said, while the money generated was not all income for the authority because costs had to be covered, it was a useful contribution to the cost of subsidising park and ride buses.

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John Birchall, spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: 'This is not all income for the county council because the fees have to cover the costs of making the sites available.

'Some lettings mean that the community can usefully use the sites when closed, but the income is not significant.

'However, we are keen to maximise income, and commercial lettings can make a small contribution towards the county council park and ride subsidy, which last year was �2.3m.'

Earlier this year the council revealed how it was hoping to rent out about a third of the 1,100 spaces at the Costessey Park and Ride site to a private company or individual.

Through the estate planning firm NPS it advertised the spaces for rent at a cost per year of �70,000.

However, Mr Birchall revealed: 'Unfortunately we have not been able to lease out surplus parking space at Costessey park and ride. Although there was interest, this was mainly in buying rather than leasing the site.'

All of Norwich's park and ride sites are open Monday to Saturday. Norwich has more park and ride sites than any other city in the UK and last year, more than three million passengers and more than 860,000 vehicles used the sites.

There are park and ride sites at Costessey, Sprowston, Postwick, Norwich International Airport, Thickthorn and Harford.

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