Cereals 2010: Mixed views on park and ride scheme

The free park and ride system introduced to help ease congestion at this year’s Cereals event has divided opinion among visitors with some journeys taking over an hour.

The shuttle service was introduced in response to criticism of traffic management at previous events.

Organiser Haymarket Exhibitions said the £120,000 scheme using 75 buses would offer the best solution to ease traffic problems.

But on the first day of Cereals, visitors agreed that the new scheme was an improvement but there were still “teething” issues to be resolved.

The main complaints were poor signage and journeys from the park and ride site to the showground taking more than twice as long as expected.

James Lake drove from Norfolk on Wednesday morning (9 June) with his wife Sarah and they parked their car in the green car park.

Mr Lake said the bus journey to the Cereals site at Robert Law’s farm near Royston, Cambs took around 45 minutes during the rush hour.

“The park and ride idea is good, but it wasn’t much faster than in previous events when we could just drive onto the site,” said Mr Lake, a contract farmer for A&J Lake and Sons.

“They would be better off finding a site where there are better road networks and car parks around it.”

Mrs Lake added: “We only waited a few minutes to queue for the bus, but there weren’t enough seats, so we had to stand for the whole journey which was uncomfortable.”

Agriculture student Tim Sheil, 22, took an early morning ferry from southern Ireland to get to Cereals.

Mr Sheil parked in the blue car park with his family, who farm at Bally Hamilton Farm in Wexford, south east Ireland.

“It was a long way in. It took us 40 minutes to get here on the bus,” said Mr Sheil. “The roads were very busy, but the buses probably helped ease the congestion.”

However, farmer Tim Chamen from Bedfordshire who used the green car park branded the scheme a “failure” and said many visitors he had spoken to felt disgruntled.

“There was a massive queue to get here, the signage was poor causing people to travel in the wrong direction,” he fumed.

“It took us over an hour to get here. We’d have been better off parking in a country road and walking in. A lot of farmers are fed up.”

Host farmer Robert Law said: “I’ve always said you’ll never get a farmer on a bike, but it seems as though you’ll never get one on a bus.

“Hopefully people will have a good day and not whinge about the traffic.”

Event presenter Jon Day, from Haymarket Exhibitions, said: “There has been a mixed reaction to the scheme.

“Some visitors have said it has taken a bit longer to get to the site than they had anticipated. But it is still better than last year.”

For more from Cereals 2010 read our special report page.

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