Residents of Hexham have been messed around for too long over plans for the town's bus station. Last week a County Council study identified Loosing Hill in the town as the preferred site to develop a new bus station.
The county council study scored each possible site against 27 criteria under five themes of: accessibility; functionality; sustainability; safety and security; and cost. The County Council's preferred option is to develop a new bus station at Loosing Hill in the town, and detailed plans will now be developed. Other options considered were Wentworth Car Park; Maiden’s Walk; Hexham Railway Station; on-street facilities on Priestpopple; the existing bus station site; the existing bus station site plus land to the south; and land at the south-west corner of Priestpopple and Corbridge Road.
The saga of Hexham's bus station has become a real joke amongst local people. This Labour administration have only been in place for 12 months, yet this is the fourth plan we have for the bus station. First, the current bus station was to be redeveloped, then it was onto the high street, then it was to be up Maiden's Walk and now it's Loosing Hill car park.
The one consistent theme has been a complete lack of organisation, clarity or detail. Many of the concerns of local people are centred around the way that the whole issue has been
handled from day one. We have had one grand scheme after another, and not a single bit of public consultation so far.The key thing now the is that the Council properly engage and actually listen to local people.
If the County Council insists that the Bus Station will not stay on the current site - whatever their reason - then, yes, Loosing Hill probably is the least worse alternative at this moment in time - I certainly don't want the row of Bus Stations on Priestpopple that was first proposed. However, I have also yet to see the reasons why the current site must be entirely ruled out.
I have long campaigned for improvements to the current bus station. If the plans for a Bus Station are to go ahead, at Loosing Hill or anywhere else, I will do everything I can to ensure we end up with decent facilities, including toilets, seating and shelter, and that these fit with
the aesthetics of our town.
The key thing now is that local people make their voice heard. The drop-in event in the town is on Friday 11 July. Residents, bus users and anyone who wants to find out more about proposals can attend the Council Chamber in Prospect House, Hexham at any time between 2pm and 7pm. Visitors to the event will be able to see the outcomes from a detailed appraisal of options for the future of the bus station.