Businesses in talks to cut Norwich park and ride bill
Businesses in Norwich are being asked to ease the burden on council taxpayers and help cut the bill to run the city's six park-and-ride sites, which could help pave the way for a sell-off in the longer term.
Norfolk County Council is in talks with several leading city firms without parking facilities to see if they would be prepared to help fund some of the services.
County Hall has already struck similar deals with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the University of East Anglia, which are big users of the sites.
Graham Plant, cabinet member for travel and transport, said that the authority has been talking to city businesses since last year to see if similar arrangements could be put in place. He also wanted to talk to Norwich City Council to see if an agreed parking price policy could be put in place.
'What would be ideal would be to have zero cost to the council taxpayer for that service and we are talking to city centre businesses to see if we can get to that point,' Mr Plant said.
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'The hospital and the university are paying towards it and we are going to continue talking to them. It's all a matter of negotiation. Park-and-ride has proved to be valuable and reduced congestion in the city.
'The fact that negotiations are still going on doesn't mean it's been fruitless, it means that companies are also having to watch their backs as well.'
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Last weekend saw a number of changes to the service, including a 15pc increase in fees, and the closure of Costessey and Postwick on Saturdays. The late-night service on Thursdays has also been scrapped and concessionary bus pass holders must also pay �1 to travel. The measures are part of a drive to cut the council subsidy from �2m a year to �500,000 by 2011/12.
Mr Plant said he hoped that the service would be cost-neutral within two years and a successful deal with firms could help. That could also pave the way for a sell-off of the service or some sites.
'There are several different scenarios that could work, but it's always on the table,' he said. 'If we can turn that around and find a way of covering those costs, it might just be feasible for a private company to look at it.'
What do you think of the park-and-ride plans? Write to Evening News Letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org