Plans to reopen a Park and Ride service could hit a fresh stumbling block ahead of crunch meetings this week.
Canterbury City Council Tories have ‘called-in’ a decision to reopen the Sturry Road Park and Ride, slating the move as “wishful thinking.”
The newly formed Labour - Lib Dem cabinet earlier this month voted to reopen the service on August 1 next year, at an estimated cost of £232,500.
The move comes as part of the coalition’s wider plans to adopt a “bus-first” strategy, having scrapped the former Conservative administration’s radical proposals to slice the city into five driving zones.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised to open the site – which the ousted Conservative administration mothballed in July 2022 - during the run-up to May’s local elections.
Both parties argue the move could help reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and cut congestion.
But five of the council’s eight remaining Conservative councillors earlier this month “called in” the decision for extra scrutiny at a meeting on Thursday August 17.
The Conservatives argue there is not enough evidence to base the decision on and claims there was not a proper consultation.
Cllr Dan Watkins told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “The Park & Ride at Sturry was failing 2 years ago, a year and a half ago.
“That, we believe, would still be the case if it was reinstated, and by failing I mean not enough people are using it.”
Council figures from before the site was scrapped last year showed an average of 90 users per day, or about 4.5 passengers per bus.
Cllr Watkins argued if they had not mothballed the site in 2022 “it would still be haemorrhaging money today and frankly not transporting many people.”
Cabinet members previously argued that with proper marketing, the reopened Park & Ride could prove popular.
However, Cllr Watkins said: “It’s just like a wish, it seems like wishful thinking.
“There’s so many priorities for public spending at the moment, how can we be gambling it on a marketing plan for a failing park & ride that doesn’t look to me like it’s going to be so different from what we had before?”
Cllr Alex Rickets (Lib Dem) on August 1 told the council chamber the site would form “an important part of a properly constructed environmentally responsible transport structure for the district”.