Published: 11:55, 19 June 2022
| Updated: 14:22, 20 June 2022
A park and ride site set to sit empty for up to two years will close at the end of the month, it has been revealed.
Signs have appeared at the Sturry Road facility in Canterbury warning passengers the service will end on Thursday, June 30.
The move comes after the city council decided in April to mothball the site in a bid to save £360,000 amid a drastic fall in passenger numbers since the outbreak of Covid.
Bosses pressed forward with the proposal despite it being rejected by more than 90% of respondents to a public consultation.
Among those opposed was Kerry Johnson, from Herne Bay, who uses the Sturry park and ride six days a week to travel into work in Canterbury city centre.
She spotted a sign warning of the closure date on her way home on Wednesday, given her just 16 days' notice that the service would end.
"I don’t think 16 days is enough," she told KentOnline. "I’m not sure how long would be enough notice, to be honest.
"I’m not sure what I’m going to do.
"I work in the centre of Canterbury so it’s impossible to park without paying an absolute fortune.
"It’s obvious that the number of users has lowered since Covid hit, people are working from home, and unfortunately some may have lost their jobs, but there are still many of us who rely on the service.
"The alternatives are extortionately priced or too far out of the city centre. It’s really unfair."
Council papers state that more than £44,000 of public cash is spent subsidising the Sturry Road service each month.
The authority estimates this figure will fall to £30,000 when the site is mothballed.
It says the Sturry Road service is “by far the least well-used” of the city's three Park and Rides, having received an average of fewer than 100 visitors a day over the last year.
But its closure on July 1 will come just just three months after parking rates at some city centre car parks controversially were hiked to £3.20 per hour.
Many people also believe mothballing the Sturry Road site is a precursor to the council eventually selling off the car park.
But previously defending the proposal, the authority's leader, Ben Fitter-Harding, stressed there is a future for the service.
He believes the construction of the Sturry relief road - which will join the A28 opposite the site - and new housing in Herne Bay and Thanet will “make it financially viable in the future”.
The Conservative added: “I’m really heartened by the support for [the Sturry Road park and ride], and I hope that this, combined with the delivery of the Sturry Relief Road, will make it successful in the future.
“That doesn’t reflect the reality right now, though.
“We have a duty to spend our taxpayers’ money wisely and such a large subsidy to support so few people, when plenty of other parking options exist, is letting our residents down.
“The small number of people affected will be able to use other park and ride sites at the same price, or spaces in the city centre.”
A review of the site's closure will not be undertaken until 18 months after the service has been suspended.