City’s park and ride service to end

THE park and ride service ferrying residents into Ely’s city centre on Saturday’s will cease running from later this month.

Councillors said the cost of running the service could no longer be justified in light of the council’s shrinking budget and the decision was taken to cut the service from November 18.

The bus took visitors from the car park at Ely Community College into Market Street, at the heart of the city.

The council’s tourism chief, Tracey Harding, had suggested retaining the service for at least another year in her report to councillors, but her recommendation was ignored.

According to Mrs Harding’s report, the park and ride service was used by an average of 450 passengers every Saturday, with both journeys taken into consideration.

The cost of running the bus was �15,506 per year, with an extra �3,700 needed to hire the parking area from Ely College.

At the meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor for Ely, Sheila Friend-Smith, argued that Ely’s park and ride would be important for residents in the run up to the busy Christmas period but her proposal to keep it in place until early next year was voted down.

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Conservative councillors Bill Hunt and Mike Rouse argued that the cost of hiring the car park for the service was “unacceptable” and said that there was no real evidence justify keeping the service.

Councillors subsequently voted not to re-tender the contract for the service.

Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Ian Allen, said: “They have cancelled the park and ride at the same time that they are proposing to introduce car park charging, it’s a strange decision.”

Council leader Peter Moakes, said: “The service has been under used as a park and ride facility. It was a very difficult decision for members to make but as the service was costing tax payers across the district �20,000, we decided not to renew the service.

“We hope our conversations with Cambridgeshire County Council will allow us to develop other bus services around the city using money we have obtained from developers.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the cost of running the service justified by the number of people who use it? Send your thoughts to Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, CB7 4LS or email