Cambridge Liberal Democrats are fighting to stop a £400,000 permanent long-distance bus stop at the city’s Parkside after complaints from residents.
They claim the National Express buses would be better stopping at the railway station or Park and Ride sites instead where they could link up with other forms of transport and where infrastructure either will or can be more easily provided.
And they are calling for residents living near the Parkside stop to have their say on its future.
Cambridgeshire County Council officers have recommended, however, that National Express’s planning application to make the stop permanent and include a public toilet, cycle parking and office space should be given the go-ahead. The improvements would be funded jointly by taxpayers and National Express.
The issue was discussed yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, September 23) at the Cambridge City Joint Area Transport Committee meeting.
Cambridge City Cllr Andrea Reiner, Spokesperson for City Centre and Public Places said: “This is a case study in how local government makes bad decisions.
“I regularly receive complaints from residents about the noise and fumes from the buses. Those who travel by bus also complain that there are no toilet facilities at the stop and that buses leave passengers in a place that does not easily link up with other forms of transport.
“I have always told residents that the planning permissions granted to National Express were temporary but it is now clear that the company has not pursued what many see as an obvious solution, to site a bus stop at the railway station.”
The National Express buses have been stopping at Parkside since 2007 when a small temporary kiosk was provided.
But, although the kiosk has temporary permission the siting of the bus stop has permanent permission under a Traffic Regulation Order which cannot be altered by the county council.
Cllr Ed Cearns, spokesperson on the Cambridgeshire County Council Lib Dem group said of yesterday’s committee: “We made it very clear that the assumption is being wrongly made that this is the best site for the coach stop. We want officers to undertake a full assessment of all the options. Council powers are limited, but it’s important that the needs of customers and residents are met not just the desire of the coach and bus companies”
Cllr Reiner added: “And to add insult to injury, the very residents who had no say in this decision will also be asked to pay for the facility which we are told will cost close to half a million pounds.
“If this plan goes forward, in the end Cambridge will end up with a mediocre coach stop, inappropriately sited along the edge of one of the city’s most iconic public open spaces, where travelling members of the public must trudge through the streets just to reach basic facilities. The edge of one of the city’s most iconic public open spaces is not the place for a toilet block, office and waiting rooms.
“And residents of the future will look at it and wonder how councillors ever let their council make such a bad decision.”