Peterborough park and ride plans quietly forgotten

City’s Environment Capital costume looking increasingly threadbare.

traffic07:17 Thursday 7th January 2016
BBC radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: When you say park and ride in Cambridge everyone knows what you’re talking about. They’ve been huge successes these car parks based around the city centre in a kind of ring with then buses into town, huge success, thousands of people using them every day. Now there have been tentative plans for something similar in Peterborough for years now, but that could all change. Instead of progress being made on the plans, they could be removed. There was a special meeting of the City Council last night to look at the Draft Local Transport Plan for Peterborough. It was proposed that the year-round park and ride scheme proposals be dropped. Nick Sandford is LibDem Leader on the City Council and chaired that meeting. Morning Nick.
NICK SANDFORD: Morning Dotty.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So can you just outline for us first of all what a Draft Local Transport Plan is? What are we talking about here?
NICK SANDFORD: Well it basically sets out the transport vision that the Council has. They’re trying to project a long term vision forward to about 2030. But it also talks about some of the short term projects that they’re going to implement in order to take that forward.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Now it might be news to some people that there have even been plans for a park and ride scheme in Peterborough as part of this Local Plan for the past few years, but that’s the case isn’t it?

It is a proper tale of two cities this.

NICK SANDFORD: Yes it is. The Council’s been drawing up these Local Transport Plans since about the year 2000 and there’s always been a long term commitment to have a park and ride scheme. In fact the Council traditionally for a number of years had a park and ride scheme in the period running up to Christmas, but it only ran for quite a short period. The population of Peterborough is projected to grow by about 25%, so if we don’t actually do something fairly quickly there’s going to be an awful lot of congestion in the city centre.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what happened at this meeting last night?

NICK SANDFORD: Well as I say the commitment to a long term park and ride scheme has always been in the Local Transport Plan. This is a document that runs to about 100 pages. I certainly noticed when I was going through it that there didn’t seem to be any reference to a park and ride scheme, and when I actually questioned those people that were responsible for drawing up the Plan, they were saying that they only wanted to put things in the Local Transport Plan that could actually happen in the short term. So all the references to things like a park and ride scheme, longer term things like tramways and opening new stations, they’ve all been taken out of the Plan.
DOTTY MCLEOD: But Nick what difference does it really make? Because as you say this park and ride scheme has been in the Local Plan for years now, and there’s still no park and ride scheme. So taking it out of the Local Plan, what difference does it actually make if it was never going to happen anyway?
NICK SANDFORD: Well we were actually making progress, because up to about 2013 there was always a park and ride scheme for a number of weeks running up to Christmas. First of all it used to operate from about the end of November up to Christmas, but they were gradually extending it. But then as part of the expenditure cuts it was withdrawn.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK. So you’re worried really that this is kind of a lack of ambition.
NICK SANDFORD: Yes. One of my criticisms of the Plan the Conservatives are putting forward is that there’s a lot of short term thinking, and there’s a lot of things in the Plan about in the longer term as Peterborough grows we need to tackle congestion, we need to tackle air pollution, we need to tackle climate change. But there’s no practical things in there about how that’s going to be achieved.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK Nick. Thank you for your time this morning. Nick Sandford there who is LibDem Leader of the Libdem, Group on Peterborough City Council, We will give a call to Peterborough City Council to see if we can get a comment from the Leadership on that. I’d imagine that they’d say that their Draft Local Plan, they’re aiming for it to be realistic. It is a proper tale of two cities this. If you compare the situation in Peterborough with the situation in Cambridge, you’ve got Peterborough dropping or potentially dropping this park and ride ambition, and also not mentioning anything about new railway stations for example. No plans for a station at Hampton. And then in Cambridge you have plans for more park and ride sites around the city, and also the Chesterton railway station, the Science Park station, which is kind of in the works at the moment, with several little spanners being inserted, but it is in the works. And then more talk as well of a new station for Addenbrookes. It’s quite interesting the contrast.