Council transport bosses have joined forces with the Whitstable Gazette after the shock closure of one of the town's biggest car parks.
Southern Water closed the Gorrell Tank car park on Monday following an inspection which revealed urgent repairs were needed to prevent it from collapsing.
Engineers say supporting concrete columns have rusted across the entire 245-space site which operates at near-full capacity during busy weekends.
The KM Group, which runs the newspaper and this website, and George Wilson Holdings Ltd have agreed their car parks at the Estuary View business park can be used for a park-and-ride scheme on both of May’s bank holiday weekends.
With buses being provided by Stagecoach, this should free up more than 200 spaces.
Canterbury City Council’s senior transportation officer, Colin Perris, said: “The loss of Gorrell Tank will inevitably cause problems with parking in Whitstable, but we are very pleased to have pulled out all the stops at extremely short notice to provide park and ride on what are likely to be two very busy weekends in the town.
“We’d like to thank the KM Group, George Wilson and Stagecoach for helping us turn this round so quickly.”
On Saturday, Sunday and Monday buses will run every 20 minutes between 9am and 6pm on a loop between Estuary View and the Horsebridge.
Tickets will cost £2 for an adult and £1 for a child.
The scheme will come back to life on Saturday, May 24, until end of play on Monday, May 26.
Mr Perris said: “During the Gorrell Tank closure period, motorists are advised to leave more time for their journeys into Whitstable.
“There are plenty more spaces around the town and road signs advising about the Gorrell Tank closure will be going up shortly.”
Swathes of tourists are expected in Whitstable on bank holiday Monday for both the May Day Festival at Whitstable Castle and the Whitstable 10k race with an estimated 700 runners.
Southern Water’s David Port apologised for any inconvenience caused during the closure.
He said: “We appreciate that Whitstable is a busy tourist town and the car park is one of only two long-stay car parks but health and safety is our first and foremost consideration.
“We are working with Canterbury City Council on the long-term plan for the site.”
The council’s business officer Paul Spree says the Thursday market has been suspended while repairs are carried out.
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