County council's park and ride scheme for Â£53m new HQ is 'destined to fail' fears councillor
A new park and ride schemeÂ to serve up to 900 county council staff in Northampton "is destined to fail" according to a St James councillor.
Northamptonshire County Council is set to move staff into its Angel Street building by next month, but the issue of where the influx of employees would park has been up in the air until this week.
It is now known the authority will be setting up a park and ride scheme that will go from the car park at the rear of the Franklin’s Gardens site on Edgar Mobbs Way.
There had been negotiations to strike a deal with Northampton Borough Council allowing staff to have reserved parking in one of its multi-storeys - but the talks have come to nothing.
Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Dallington and Spencer) says the park and ride is ill-conceived, as he says it will deposit up to 900 cars in St James every week-day and will be impractical for any staff approaching Northampton from the north or east.
He said: "If you come from in from the other side of the county you have got to drive pretty much past your place of work, to come around the other side of town.
"People will just park on one of the side streets in St James, Far Cotton, or the Bouverie Estate."
In a memo sent to county council staff, the authority says the buses will run every 12 to 15 minutes throughout the day, starting at 6:30 am and finishing at 7:37 pm.
The journey into the town centre will take around 12 minutes, the council says, while the journey back will take around seven minutes.
But Councillor Eales believes the journey times are "sheer fiction".
He said: "I don't know if they are proposing to use a helicopter, I have never managed to make it into town in 12 minutes.
"It's embarrassing the county council couldn't plan this better."
Councillor Eales has urged both the county and borough councils to go back to the negotiating table and come to an agreement on town centre parking.
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “As part of our planning conditions for our new headquarters, we created a comprehensive travel plan for staff which includes car sharing, public transport and a park and ride scheme.
“The benefit of the park and ride scheme is that it will alleviate congestion in the town centre and reduce air pollution while providing staff with an accessible and affordable option.
"We have worked with our partners at Northampton Saints Rugby Club to identify a suitable location at Sixfields and this will be available to staff from next month.”