Doubts raised over future of summer park-and-ride

Postwick Park and Ride which is currently being used at a Covid-19 testing station. Photo: Sonya Dun

A part-and-ride sign outside Norwich. North Norfolk District Council wanted to introduce similar schemes serving popular seaside towns. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Doubts have been raised over whether a park-and-ride programme will return to north Norfolk after a lacklustre response to a recent pilot scheme.

North Norfolk District Council ran a park-and-ride from the Beeston area into Sheringham over five weeks this summer. 

Sarah Bütikofer, council leader, said earlier in the year they had also wanted to launch schemes to serve Cromer and Wells to cope with an influx of British tourists taking domestic holidays rather than travelling abroad due to coronavirus restrictions.  

But because of problems finding spots to operate from, these were not able to go ahead. 

Liberal Democrat council leader Sarah Bütikofer. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

NNDC leader Sarah Bütikofer. - Credit: North Norfolk District Council

Mrs Bütikofer said: "I think we've learned different things from this experience. I don't think I'd say never again, but I think we have to try and find a different location."

"The park-and-ride in the Beeston area to help Sheringham never took off as much as we had it expected it to. A lot of that was down to the location of it, and also we didn't have the kind of heat that we were expecting. 

"It was always only ever going to work if we had the co-operation of local landowners, but they didn't want to put their land to that use this summer. We're not landowners, all we can do is ask people to work with us but if they don't want to that's their prerogative."

sheringham beach

A park-and-ride scheme designed to help Sheringham was not that well received over the five weeks it ran in summer 2021. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

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Mrs Bütikofer said complications over how the schemes were funded also threw a spanner in the works. The council originally envisaged it could use money from a £56 million Welcome Back Fund, which originates from a European Regional Development Fund. 

She said: "Part of the problem was when we first wanted to do it the government said we could use part of our Welcome Back funding to do that, but then they kept changing the goal posts.

"The place I wanted to help more than anywhere else was Wells, because they have had so much trouble. We really wanted to do something extra for them this year but we just weren't able to secure the land." 

When the idea was put forward in April it got a positive reception from town leaders