Hexham bus station removal would be a 'betrayal' say campaigners

Campaigners feel betrayed by Northumberland County Council's proposed development of Hexham bus station

Hexham bus station
Hexham bus station

Campaigners against the proposed removal of a Northumberland bus station say they have been “betrayed” by the county council.

Under proposals by Northumberland County Council, Hexham bus station could close and services maybe supplied via a series of lay-bys along Priestpopple.

Earlier this year a 2,500 name petition demanding the bus station to remain where it is was handed in.

The petition was deemed a success by campaigners, with the executive of Northumberland County Council backing recommendations that the site should remain as a bus station.

However, a notice on the county council’s website has appeared for a closed meeting to be held on January 11, 2014, about selling off the bus station.

Campaigner Dr Anne Pickering says she is outraged by the council’s behavior.

She said: “The county council’s executive endorsed the resolution that the bus station remain on it’s current site back in March.

“But earlier this month it was reported that the council were discussing development of the site and that the council would have a workable proposal to bring forward for consultation in early 2014.

“The council has never been asked for, nor promised to build, a new bus station or to do massive renovations.

“This is absolutely what we fought against and it makes a mockery of democracy and the democratic process.”

Under the county council’s proposal, the scheme would also involve moving the statue of Boer War hero Colonel George Benson from the spot it has occupied in Beaumont Street for more than a century.

The old soldier might have to be moved to make way for a roundabout at the junction of Beaumont Street with Battle Hill.

It is also understood that the Hero of Brakenlaagte’s memorial, erected in 1904, will have to be moved around eight feet.

The Benson’s Gates at the entrance to the Abbey Grounds, and the extended footpath on the western side of Beaumont Street would also have to be sacrificed to allow buses to access the street.

Talks are underway with potential developers, who could produce the £500,000 scheme to open up Hexham town centre.

Planners are working on a feasibility study which would see a bus service which operates through the town centre to access ‘lower’ Hexham for the first time. Previously, proposals to create a new bus station at the Loosing Hill car park were abandoned after a hail of protest from local people.

Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member for housing, planning and regeneration at Northumberland County Council said: “The petition considered in March 2012 was in relation to the possibility of moving the bus station to Loosing Hill, and was in the light of a possible agreement with a developer for the redevelopment of the existing site, which had broken down.

“The report noted that the immediate need to relocate bus station facilities in Hexham had been removed, and the decision was made until such time as the council wished to pursue another development scheme for the site.

“There were no such plans at that stage and therefore the desire expressed in the petition was satisfied.

“The bus service provision and the potential for the redevelopment of the site are currently being investigated again by the council and will be considered in a report to the policy board on 11th February 2014. No decisions have been taken yet.”

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