Posted: Sun 30th Jan 2022

Pandemic blamed for turning Deeside Industrial Estate Park and Ride facility into £2million white elephant

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jan 30th, 2022

A £2 million Park and Ride facility which opened last August on Deeside Industrial Park has remained largely unused because of the pandemic.

Around 275 parking spaces have been built on land off Shotwick Road on the edge of the industrial estate close to the A494.

The Park and Ride scheme is part of the ongoing development of the North East Wales METRO and is centred around enabling employees to travel to work by car before making their onward journey via a designated Shuttle Bus service around the Park.

Welsh Government funding of £988,500 was awarded to Flintshire council in 2017-18 to help buy the site, which was formerly disused highways land.

Further funding of £1,300,000 has now been awarded for 2019-2020 to enable the completion of construction.

On the awarding of funding, the economy minister at the time Ken Skates said: “Poor accessibility has long been the dominating factor for business retention and employee recruitment within the Deeside Industrial Park whilst also acting as a major constraint when attracting prospective business and facilitating business expansion.

Mr Skates, who stepped down from his ministerial role last May, said: “Businesses have also raised concerns regarding the lack of sufficient parking within the park, leading to indiscriminate parking and traffic congestion.”

“This development will address many of the on-site issues, while opening up opportunities for many in the surrounding areas to take advantage of the employment prospects right on their doorsteps.” He said.

Since the Park and Ride scheme has become operational several people have been in touch with Deeside.com concerned about “public money” being wasted on a “white elephant” scheme as “no one” is using the facility.

Last Monday just one vehicle was seen parked in the car park during the morning.

Photograph taken at 9.30am on Monday 24th January – Deeside.com

Flintshire council has said work from home rules implemented during the pandemic has impacted on demand for the service.

When the Park and Ride facility was launched the council said it was free of charge “for an introductory period.”

“Once this period has ended, tickets will be priced at £48 for a yearly permit and £1 all day for the pay and display option.”

“Each permit and pay and display ticket purchased will allow the ticket holder to ride on the connecting Shuttle Bus into Zone 2 as well as a return journey back to the car park facility.” Flintshire council said.

The council said it has no way of tracking the number of people using the car park because there are no pay and display machines at the site.

Deeside.com asked – via a Freedom of Information Request – how many cars on average per day and week use the facility.

In response, Flintshire council said: “No usage data is currently held, as the car park does not have ticket machines to enable this data to be captured.”

“When the Parking Orders have been implemented, ticket machines will be introduced, which will enable recording of utilisation levels.”

The local authority previously said waiting restrictions (Parking Orders) to address problems caused by indiscriminate parking are to be implemented across the industrial estate.

Separately we asked if the bus service was still being offered to park and ride users given the extremely low number of users and also asked if it was still free of charge.

The council didn’t respond to those particular questions but Flintshire’s Chief Officer for Streetscene and Transportation, Katie Wilby, did say:

“The Park & Ride (P&R) is one of the first transport infrastructure projects in Flintshire to be delivered as part of the Transport for Wales (TfW) wider North Wales Metro programme, which will be developed over a period of a number of years and includes a raft of measures, such as rail service improvements, new stations, new and improved active travel routes, new bus interchanges and bus journey time improvements along key corridors.

“The parking solution was originally requested by businesses on the Deeside Industrial Park to alleviate historical parking issues.”

“The aim of the North Wales Metro programme is to make it easier and faster to travel across North Wales and build better connections with the north-west of England, which will help create more opportunities for our communities and support inward investment for the area.

“Unfortunately, the P&R scheme in Deeside has been impacted over the last 18 months by the pandemic in terms of the demand for travel with more people working from home and reduced passenger numbers; however, we are working on plans to promote the new facility once the restrictions are eased and services start to recover.”

Commenting on Deeside.com Facebook Page, Chris said: “Did they honestly think that people that drove to work from further up the coast or Wirral, Liverpool, Manchester are going to park their car in there and wait around for a bus rather than the extra 2 minutes driving to their work car park another money wasting exercise.”

Dan commented: “I rode my bike past there on Wednesday last week around midday, no cars there, just one very bored looking bus driver.”

Victoria said: “It was always going to be a white elephant, who ever thought it would be used never spoke to a single person working on the estate. should have used the money to improve the biodiversity of the area not destroy it!”

 

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