New firms to run Norwich park and ride
TRANSPORT chiefs are set to overhaul Norwich's park-and-ride service by bringing in a London based firm to run three of the six sites.Norfolk County Council is revamping the service by awarding the contract to two firms - Dereham-based Konect, which currently operates two sites at Costessey and Thickthorn, and London outfit CT Plus, which will run services from the Airport, Sprowston and Postwick park-and-ride sites.
TRANSPORT chiefs are set to overhaul Norwich's park-and-ride service by bringing in a London based firm to run three of the six sites.
Norfolk County Council is revamping the service by awarding the contract to two firms - Dereham-based Konect, which currently operates two sites at Costessey and Thickthorn, and London outfit CT Plus, which will run services from the Airport, Sprowston and Postwick park-and-ride sites.
The deal, which comes after the authority launched a �200,000 World Class, Normal for Norfolk campaign to promote local businesses to the outside world, also sees the council's own commercial wing Norfolk County Services lose one of its contracts.
And it also means that First Eastern Counties will lose the Harford and Sprowston contracts.
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Eight firms from around the country bid for the contracts, which will start next March, and can be extended by three years if the two firms perform well.
The authority confirmed the deal on Friday after details of the switch leaked out - although councillors had yet to learn of the news as the official papers were not due out until this week.
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County Hall insisted the five-year contract would save �820,000 and allow the authority to cut its annual �2.3m subsidy for the service, while also improving quality.
But opposition parties said they still wanted to see more details of the new contracts before being convinced it meant a better deal for commuters and council tax-payers.
And they called for the authority to reverse new changes to its pricing structure which saw passengers charged per person instead of per car.
Andrew Boswell, Green group leader, said he hoped it would ensure cheaper fares for commuters.
"It's obviously better if the contractors can be local, but the most important thing is that the prices will be kept down to encourage people to use the park-and-ride."
First Eastern Counties spokesman Gussy Alamein, said: "While we are naturally disappointed at the outcome of the tendering process, we will continue to operate the park and ride services to our usual high standard until the conclusion of the contract. In addition, we remain committed to continuing to provide the very best level of bus services to the people and businesses of Norwich. Our ongoing partnership working, investment in vehicles and our staff highlight our determination to make buses the preferred travel option."
CT Plus which is part of HCT Group, is a social enterprise which runs some London Bus services and recently won a deal to run the park-and-ride service in Hull.
And it is set to create an operations base in the north of the city once the contract gets under way.
A spokesman for CT Plus said: "CT Plus are delighted to have achieved preferred bidder status for operating three Norwich park-and-ride sites. We are looking forward to October 12 when the final decision on the award is made by the county council's cabinet."
Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said he was pleased the county council had found two highly regarded and experienced bus operators to help deliver the park-and-ride services.
The cabinet will make the formal decision on the award of contracts on October 12.