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Shoppers hit by Park and Ride cuts

Yellow Park and Ride buses are the latest victims of the credit crunch.

The buses will no longer run from the County Town’s busiest Park and Ride site, at London Road, Allington, during off-peak hours and Saturdays. Instead, after January 1 Arriva’s number 71 bus from Snodland to Maidstone will make an extra stop at the site.

The move is expected to save Maidstone council several hundred thousand pounds over the next five years.

The move was confirmed when Cllr Mark Wooding (Con), cabinet member for the environment, accepted Arriva’s bid to run Maidstone’s Park and Ride buses.

He says it is necessary to safeguard the future of the service.

But the switch has been condemned by Liberal Democrat councillors who have called a public debate.

Cllr Malcolm Robertson (Lib Dem) said: “I see this as decimating the London Road service.

“Park and Ride users are going to face a slower service into town as the bus makes all the regular stops and it’s going to cause delays for the regular users who get on at Snodland or Larkfield, with their bus diverting to pick up at the Park and Ride. No-one will like it.”

Cllr Robertson said he feared the change would also put off many Park and Ride users for other reasons.

There was no waiting room at the Allington site but at present passengers could wait in the warm bus standing there.

Cllr Wooding made his decision after considering six tender options. He did not pick the cheapest, which would not have offered a relief bus to Sittingbourne Road at peak times.

Cllr Wooding said: “What we are doing is making sure the service remains financially viable.”

The decision will be considered at a scrutiny meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday at 6.30pm.

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