AFTER months of deliberations, Lyme Regis Town Council has agreed it will operate a park and ride service this summer.
The council delayed making a decision on the park and ride facility in Charmouth Road for as long as possible, in the hope it would have a better idea on how coronavirus restrictions would affect the service.
Deputy town clerk Mark Green previously warned that running the service could result in a loss of tens of thousands of pounds for the council, if visitors were not willing to travel on packed double decker buses following the pandemic.
However, with restrictions expected to ease further on June 21, councillors have now decided to operate the service during the school summer holidays, from July 24 to September 5.
The decision will alleviate some concerns that Lyme Regis was set for its most difficult year in terms of parking and traffic issues, with a bumper season expected as visitors make the most of ‘staycations’ rather than international travel.
Lyme Regis Football Club has also decided to open its pitch for one more summer of parking, having previously said it would not do so, which will help to alleviate the issue.
The football pitch will be undergoing drainage work at the end of summer and will no longer offer parking after this.
A discussion on the Charmouth Road park and ride was expected to be held in public at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, but after receiving additional information from bus operate First, the council agreed to make the decision behind closed doors, excluding the press and public from the meeting.
Before doing so, town clerk John Wright did reveal some figures.
He said that passenger capacity on buses had now been increased and was expected to be further increased by summer, but First advised running three double deckers rather than the usual two to accommodate visitor numbers. This could be done at a cost of £1,000 a day, an increase from £895.
At this point it was agreed that the press and public should be excluded from the meeting.
The council later confirmed that it had been agreed that two buses would run during weekdays and three buses at weekends and on Bank Holidays to cope with the anticipated numbers.
When asked how much this would cost the council, town clerk John Wright said: “The council underwrites the service to support the local economy and reduce congestion in the town. In the last few years it has not cost the council or the taxpayer anything.”