Suffolk County Council to launch campaign to reduce staff use of Ipswich roads

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Suffolk County Council is to launch a new campaign to encourage more of its Ipswich-based staff to change the way they travel to work.

The authority’s Russell Road base has a 636-space car park, but increasing shared use of the building by other public sector organisations means it has now reached full capacity and more needs to be done to encourage staff not to drive.

Currently 52% of staff use cars to get to work, equivalent to more than 800 vehicles a day adding to congestion on the town’s roads network. 

Staff have always paid to park there, with the money raised used to discount sustainable transport alternatives, like buses, trains and cycling.

The new campaign will remind employees of the various travel options available to them, and in addition run a six-month trial to get more staff using the town’s regular Park and Ride service. 

The aim is to relieve pressure on parking, reduce congestion and pollution on Ipswich’s busy roads and help make the Park and Ride service more sustainable.

The trial, starting on 1 August, will use the money from staff parking charges to subsidise staff use of the Park and Ride service to get to and from work. The council plans to make Park and Ride a regular habit for employees.

Aidan Dunn, Suffolk County Council’s Interim Director of Resource Management, said:

“Many of our staff need their cars to get to work and when visiting customers around the county. But in a growing town like Ipswich, parking is at a premium and we must get more cars off the roads where we possibly can.

“Suffolk County Council should lead by example, which is why we use money raised from the staff car park to encourage employees to travel more sustainably where they can.

“This campaign and trial will mean fewer cars on Ipswich’s roads and less air pollution, issues we absolutely must address.”

It means the number 38 shuttle bus, which costs the council £73,000 a year and is funded from the same staff parking charges, will stop running on 28 July 2017 with the money diverted to encourage staff use of the Park and Ride service.

The service was originally set up to dissuade county council staff from driving between their town centre offices, a requirement that no longer exists following the sale of former council buildings in the Grimwade Street area of the town.

The existence of the shuttle bus meant that members of the public could jump on and off for free. This added benefit will also end on 28 July.

Conscious of this, the council earlier this year invited local bus companies to bid for a new contract, however no affordable options were proposed.

Babergh District Council, Mid Suffolk District Council and Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group are all moving into Endeavour House this summer.

Matt Hullis, Suffolk County Council’s Head of Environment Strategy, said:

“Public sector organisations need to save money by sharing buildings and across Suffolk over £40 million has been saved doing exactly that.

“But it puts pressure on parking and our staff car park is at capacity. That’s why we must take action now. By encouraging staff to use Park and Ride, we are trying to address this issue and minimise congestion in the centre of Ipswich.

“We do understand it will be missed, but the shuttle bus has always been funded by charging council staff to park.

"Having only one main building in the centre of town means the original reason for the service no longer exists and funding can be diverted to help reduce rush-hour congestion. That’s why we’ve decided not to extend the current contract when it expires at the end of July.”