THE last park and ride bus service from Groundwell will run on May 30, unless passengers are willing to accept a hike in prices.

The decision on whether Swindon Council will seek to mothball the site will be taken at tonight’s full council meeting.

But campaigners have forced the council to rethink their figures and look at whether an increase in prices could pay for the service.

They are also angered that staff working on the Groundwell site have already been paid their redundancy money.

Swindon Council leader Rod Bluh said: “No-one is saying we would want to do it if we didn’t have to, but this service is a huge subsidy for a relatively small amount of users.

”We have a very difficult budget and we have to look at where we can best make savings with the least possible affect on frontline services.”

Coun Peter Greenhlagh, cabinet member for sustainability, transport and strategic planning, met representatives from the Save Park and Ride Kampaign (SPARK) earlier this week.

Coun Bluh said: “We said we would listen to them and that is what we have done, even if they didn’t like everything they heard.

“Basically they have agreed to do a survey of users to find out how much they would be willing to spend to keep the service open. I think it will work out as just as expensive or more expensive as parking in the town centre.”

Sara Spinks, founder of SPARK, was at the meeting.

She said: “It went okay and I think now they have seen that they could continue to run it by putting up the prices.

“They have said they will produce a page with some projected prices, which will be given to passengers.

“We will not back down on this – we are determined to keep this in the spotlight. At the meeting they said the last bus would be on May 30, unless there is a last minute reprieve, so we have until then.

“The Green Party are now supporting us and are very concerned about the effects on the council environmental agenda.

“We have also had 1,100 signatures on our petition, although it is amazing how many people still don’t know about this.”

Jenni Miles, chairwoman of Swindon Green Party said: “The park and ride service means there are several hundred less cars on the roads. That makes it better for the environment, quicker for drivers and safer for cyclists.

“At the moment all councils are having to tighten their budgets but this is not the way to do it.

“The council’s transport plan actually plans an increase in park and ride facilities by 2030, so this does seem a very strange decision.”