Committee chairman Richard Hobbs defers plans for new coach parking for Ely - ‘we’re not in that much of a rush’

Cllr Richard Hobbs

Cllr Richard Hobbs - Credit: Archant

Committee chairman Richard Hobbs insisted a decision on relocating the coach park in Ely be put back to May to give more time for talks with objectors.

“I wasn’t prepared to discuss it yet- we’re not in that much of a rush,” he said after the item was withdrawn on Tuesday for the commercial services committee agenda.

The proposal is to move the coach park from Barton Road to Cresswell’s Lane next to Sainsbury’s and impose restricted parking only for coaches.

Objectors had until April 6 to put their view and Cllr Hobbs felt there had been insufficient time to deal with these ahead of the meeting.

He dismissed speculation that the council couldn’t control what to do with the road “since we own it” and felt it was the right place for coaches to park. There was access to a toilet, it was convenient for the city and the supermarket café was nearby.

Among complaints is one from Charles Devereux, managing director of Devrail Ltd, who claimed the council’s efforts would deter tourists.

He said: “If one were a visitor from Mars one would be forgiven for assuming that the role of East Cambridgeshire Council was to throttle the prosperity of the city which depends to a significant extent on tourism.”

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Cllr Hobbs said it was one of a number of written complaints and the council had also “answered questions” from Sainsbury’s.

Chris Drury believes Cresswell’s Lane is unsuited since “there is no turning area for the coaches and the road is a cul-de-sac. The road can only accommodate in my opinion a maximum of five coaches.

“The large articulated Sainsbury’s vehicles also use this road to deliver to the store. It could be quite chaotic with coaches trying to turn around.”

Rupert Moss-Eccardt told the council that it was clear Cresswell’s Lane was a road within the meaning of the relevant acts and he questioned whether the council could arbitrarily create an off-street order there.

Victor Doggett of Ely felt those councillors voting to move the coach park and close toilets “should resign as they are clearly not looking after the people of Ely”.

Lesley Bishop said: “Planning should be a vision for the future, looking at Ely as a whole for the benefit of citizens and visitors for the long term future and not a rush of panic measures which it seems to be.”

But Cllr Hobbs believes the idea has merit and said coaches would still be able to drop off at The Cathedral and return there later to collect passengers.