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Park and ride security guards to be scrapped

PUBLISHED: 12:37 15 November 2010

Thickthorn Park and Ride.

 

picture by Adrian Judd

Thickthorn Park and Ride. picture by Adrian Judd

Security guards at six park and ride sites around Norwich will be scrapped as part of council cost-cutting measures – raising concerns over rising crime and vandalism.

Norfolk County Council needs to slash its budget by £150m over the next three years and claims that the move will save £250,000 in 12 months.

But staff warned the redundancies could make the service more dangerous for customers to use.

Norfolk County Council will lose 16 security staff at its six car parks, all of whom are employed through private firm Norse.

Tracy Jessop, assistant director for travel and transport, said: “Site security will be maintained through CCTV, with a roving security presence.

“Waiting buses mean that there will be a staff presence on site for most of the time while park and ride is running,” she added.

But one of the security guards, who asked not to be named, said he believed it would lead to an increase in crime at the park and ride sites and leave customers less safe.

“At the airport when I first started there was drug dealers right at the bottom. You used to see small packets containing white substances left on the car park. It’s going to revert back to that,” he said.

“The waiting rooms are going to be closed, and the toilets, and also the cycle sheds. The cyclists won’t be able to leave their bikes.

“It’s going to affect quite a lot. I can see an increase in crime. You’re definitely going to be looking at vandalism on cars if there’s no one there to keep an eye on them.

“There’s a few bus drivers who are up in arms about it. If they’ve got large amounts of money when they hand in their takings at the end of the night, what’s it going to take for a car to pull in with three youths with baseball bats and do the driver over?”

He said that the guards also provide other help to those who need it, including calling ambulances for ill and injured customers and fixing ticket machine jams.

“The council hasn’t figured this one out. They know about it, but at the moment they don’t really care,” he said.

Paul Bonham, commercial director for transport at Norse, said: “The County Council has given notice that it is terminating site management by Norse from the end of January.

“We recently warned park and ride site staff that changes were being considered by the county council, and now that the council has given notice we have been informing the 16 members of staff involved.

“We will be looking to redeploy staff where possible, but opportunities seem limited and unfortunately redundancy may be the only option.

“Nobody wants to give this sort of news to employees. We will be meeting affected staff in the near future to discuss the situation further,” he said.

How will you be affected by the changes? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk

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