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More drivers using park-and-ride site


The city's latest park-and-ride site in Birstall is slowly catching up with the more established sites.

The Birstall depot opened in the summer of 2011 and was lagging way behind the sites in Enderby and Meynell's Gorse in terms of passenger numbers.

Between September and November 2011, Birstall had only about 188 people using it each day, compared with about 400 for Enderby and 500 for Meynell's Gorse.

According to the latest figures, from between December last year and February this year, about 300 people are now using Birstall each day, compared with 460 using Enderby and 530 using Meynell's Gorse.

Councillor Lesley Pendleton, the environment and transport spokeswoman for the county council, said she always knew the park-and-ride would take time to win over motorists.

She said: "I'm delighted with the latest figures and that Birstall is doing well. People get very comfy in their cars. But when they see how cheap and more convenient it is, they change their mind."

The park-and-ride service costs about half a million pounds a year to subsidise, with the costs split between Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council.

While the aim is for it to ultimately be self-funding, Conservative Coun Pendleton said the park-and-ride was benefiting both county and city people and was worth the money.

She said: "I really think creating these park-and-ride sites was a no-brainer.

"They reduce the congestion in Leicester and the carbon footprint of the county and really benefit people driving in to the city – particularly people who are nervous about driving in Leicester.''

However, Max Hunt, leader of the Labour group at the county council, said his party wanted a review of the system.

He said: "It needs to be doing the job it's there for, which is to reduce congestion in the city.

"It's not being used as well as was anticipated and the December to February figures include the extra passengers using it for the Christmas shopping and sales."

Simon Galton, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the county council, said he would be in favour of raising the councils' expenditure to boost usage.

He said: "I welcome the increase, particularly at Birstall, but I think we can be more proactive in making it attractive with more offers and publicity, even if it means increasing our subsidy."

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