Fears over future of Norwich Park and Ride

The future of Norwich's park-and-ride system has come under question ahead of an expected slashing of subsidies for the service.

At a Norfolk County Council meeting yesterday, decisions to close stops served by the scheme were also criticised, amid fears that volunteer-led efforts would not be enough to plug gaps left by budget cuts.

A report given to the environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel outlined plans to stop subsiding the scheme within two years. The news follows on from cuts in the subsidy from �1.97m in 2010/11 to around �600,000 in 2011/12.

In response to the news, James Joyce of the Liberal Democrats said: 'The problem will be when the subsidy is taken away – will it be fit for purpose? I worry it won't work.'

There were also complaints about the recent removal of park-and-ride Saturday services from Costessey and Postwick.

However, assistant director of travel and transport Tracy Jessop said that most passengers from Costessey and Postwick had moved to other nearby stops for routes into Norwich, and the Saturday service would be reinstated in Postwick over the Christmas period.

During the meeting concerns were raised that an effort to cut �1m on what the council spends subsidising bus services, leading to the axing of some services, would not be made up for by an emphasis on community transport, though some voiced support for a 'courageous' scheme.

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These concerns ran on to efforts to enact volunteer-led efforts to help maintain the county's 2,355 miles of footpaths.

The plans come in the context of efforts to make �60m worth of savings agreed for the 2011/12 budget as part of a three-year plan to save �155m.

The Liberal Democrats' Tim East said: 'We keep being told that money needs to be saved, but cuts are a question of choice. The excuses are familiar that there is no choice, but there is always a choice.

'The cop-out in all this is relying on a mythical army of volunteers who are poised to leap into action to plug the gaps in bus services and footpath clearances.

'Unfortunately this fabled army is already exhausted from all the other things it is being asked to do.'

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