Conservatives demand review for Bristol Park & Ride.
Tory Chief Whip Councillor John Goulandris has called for a full and far-ranging enquiry into what went wrong with the running of the Long Ashton Park & Ride.
The Mayor and Cabinet considered a report yesterday (Tuesday, 4th October) on the considerable subsidy payments made to a company Park & Ride Limited (PRL) to manage this particular site.
It has emerged that the original contract only provided for financial support to be made to the operator for the first six years of this venture – from 1997 until 2002 - in order for the bus service to get established.
However, after that time, it was expected that any profits would be shared between PRL and the local authority. The risk in running this commercial operation was meant to have been borne from that point onwards by the partner private company.
Unfortunately, this route has never made a profit, and in 2012, the Council took over the entire cost of providing this bus service. Now, following the revelation that the authority has been paying approximately £400k per annum for the administration of the site ( for 14 years after any contractual obligation), Officers advised an immediate end to these payments. The Mayor followed this recommendation.
Cllr Goulandris (Con, Stoke Bishop) said: “This latest controversy makes Bristol City Council look totally incompetent and threatens to turn it into a laughing stock.
“Local taxpayers will be rightly outraged that we appear to have been paying this company a huge subsidy, amounting to between £5-6 million, simply on being invoiced for managing the Park & Ride site.
“Whilst I appreciate there is a lot of anguish over the current wholesale review of council expenditure to identify potential savings, this exposé demonstrates that the local authority has been incredibly wasteful - even blasé - over the use of its resources.
“It was important for the Mayor to extricate us from this palpably inept arrangement as quickly as possible and I welcome the decision taken last night but we need to go further and conduct a full and frank review into who agreed such a one-sided bargain. There needs to be some accountability for the decisions made in this debacle.
“Furthermore, now is the time to consider introducing zero- based budgeting - an approach long advocated by Conservative Members - so that all spending can be kept under tight review, rather than rely on a system of financial management that has so clearly failed.”
Contact John Goulandris tel: 07970001048