THERE are calls for a new park and ride facility in North Swindon to replace the soon-to-be-sold Groundwell site.

But the situation in the Swindon Borough Council chamber makes it unlikely a vote put forward by Labour spokesman on the environment Jane Milner-Barry will pass unamended.

The Conservative-run council is in negotiations to sell the site on Cricklade Road next to Groundwell Industrial Estate to an unnamed buyer.

The company buying the site, which closed in 2009 because of a lack of use, says it will construct an electric vehicle storage and charging facility as well as some other logistics buildings.

But Coun Milner-Barry’s says that won’t help congestion in the town.

She said: “While acknowledging the environmental benefits an electric vehicle parking and charging park will bring, the council is concerned that it will be at a cost to continued traffic congestion and a negative environmental impact, to the central areas of Swindon, which could have been reduced if the council had taken the more progressive step of investing in reopening the park and ride as proposed in Labour’s 2021-22 budget. 

“In light of the sale the council instructs the cabinet to identify a site for a park and ride facility in the north of Swindon, easily accessible from the A419 and look for this land if possible, to be included in the Local Plan and as part of the 2022-23 budget planning process.

“It should identify the resources needed to create an operational park and ride for this new site.”

It isn’t just opposition Labour politicians who would like to see more park and ride facilities on the edge of town, particularly for traffic entering from the north.

At last week’s scrutiny committee meeting Conservative member for St Margaret & South Marston Roger Smith compared Swindon’s plans for traffic unfavourably with Oxford City Council’s.

Coun Smith says: “Oxford is doing more – it is opening park and rides while we are closing them. 

"It has very expensive parking to discourage commuting into the centre while we see car parking charges as a source of income.”

The council’s cabinet member for strategic infrastructure and transport Gary Sumner pointed out the New Eastern Villages expansion scheme included a park and ride scheme for traffic heading from the east.

The matter will be debated at the meeting starting at 7pm but with a Conservative majority of 17 the vote is unlikely to be passed unamended.