Green light for park and ride

WHITBY has finally been given the go-ahead for its long awaited park and ride scheme in a project costing over £4 million.

It was announced this week that the Department for Transport had assessed the Whitby bid and given it the green light - after it was shelved two years ago due to government funding cuts.

£3.7 million has been awarded to the town by the local sustainable transport fund and now North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is looking at how it can make up the other £500,000 it had bid for but didn’t get.

The final details of the scheme will still have to be worked out but it is thought a car park will be created on the outskirts of Whitby and a bus will bring people to and from the town centre.

Charges will be introduced for parking along the West Cliff and surrounding streets with local residents and businesses likely to be issued parking permits.

Part of the original bid also featured measures to improve transport links between Whitby and the Esk valley an also to have a bike hire facility.

The news was welcomed by local ward councillors who had called the bid “the last chance saloon” when it was submitted last december.

Couns Joe Plant and Jane Kenyon said: “After a long, hard struggle we are delighted that we now have the funding which should allow us to deliver our Park and Ride for Whitby.

“The authorities can now move forward with this project which will be of great benefit to tourists, residents and local businesses alike.”

The park and ride bid was launched as a result of increased visitors to the town and problems for tourists and locals alike in finding somewhere to park, particularly on the West Cliff.

But one of the town’s tourism chiefs said the park and ride still won’t solve the problem.

Harry Collett, chair of the Whitby and District Tourism Board, said Whitby in part had created its own problems when it set up a programme of events in 1997 to attract people to the town.

He told the Gazette: “My own feeling is, it is a mixed blessing - a) it is not big enough, 200 cars on the outskirts of town is not going to make that much difference and b) I don’t know whether people will use it unless there is a big hike in fees in the town centre.

“In York it is much easier to use the park and ride whereas I think people will drive straight past it and go into town and wonder where the hell they are going to park.

“There is still a lot of discussion and negotiation that needs to take place before it is implemented.”